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Laville House Theater Night

Residents enjoyed tickets and a personal Q&A session with the directors and cast

LSU Honors College students took a study-break Feb. 24 to enjoy the last production of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" in Shaver Theatre. 

Honors College students were also invited to a personal Q&A session with the directors, actors and actresses after the play.  Any students who live in the Laville Honors House can sign up for free tickets to the LSU Department of Theatre’s productions.

Students learned about and discussed a controversial subject in an educational setting.  The play starred Jean Brodie, a history teacher who taught lessons that were arguably too mature for little girls.  The audience saw the lessons’ effects on Brodie’s students as they aged.  The romance and drama that Brodie had taught the girls caused them to engage in inappropriate activities, such as being painted nude and having affairs.

“Give me a little girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine forever,” Brodie eerily said at the beginning of the play.

The play left the audience asking:  Did Brodie have good intentions when she continually overstepped her boundaries as a teacher by teaching inappropriate lessons?  Honors College students discussed this question with the cast in the Q&A session that followed the two-hour play.

“It was a fascinating show that questioned how much influence a teacher has over his or her students,” said Colby Duhon, finance major freshman.

The Q&A session allowed honors students and the cast to discuss specific elements of the play that the audience may not have noticed, like Brodie’s clothing.  A student pointed out that Brodie’s clothes were less bright as the play progressed and as Brodie became depressed.  

Brodie’s personality had many contrasts, director Richard Holden said.  She championed the individual, yet loved Mussolini’s followers who marched blindly behind him.  She loved her student’s insight, but hated being questioned by her.

“Jean has a little knowledge about a lot of things,” said Jenny Ballard, the actress who played Brodie.  “She’s an expert on what she likes about those elements.”

Holden further explained how teacher-student relationships are sacred.  The cast and Honors College students agreed that inappropriate relationships like Brodie’s and her students are too common.  In fact, the writer of the book “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” based Brodie’s character on a real teacher.  

“The Q&A was a good opportunity for our students to hear from the director and actors about their craft, as well as how they went about interpreting the play,” said Granger Babcock, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Rector Laville Honors House.

Story by Anna Kalmbach