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King University News :: King’s Trung Phan to Direct Peter Shaffer’s "Black Comedy" as Senior Capstone Project Feb. 27-March 1

BRISTOL, Tenn., Feb. 18, 2014 – On Feb. 27 through March 1, King University’s Theatre Department will present Peter Shaffer’s farce “Black Comedy.” The play will be directed and designed by Theatre and Photography major Trung Phan as his senior capstone project. The production will take place in King’s Fine Arts Theatre at 7:30 p.m. each evening on the University’s Bristol campus.

Samuel French publishing describes “Black Comedy” as “…lovesick and desperate, sculptor Brindsley Miller has embellished his apartment with furniture and objects d’arte ‘borrowed’ from the absent antique collector next door hoping to impress his fiancée’s pompous father and a wealthy art dealer, Schuppanzigh. The fussy neighbor, Harold Gorringe returns just as a blown fuse plunges the apartment into darkness and Brindsley is revealed teetering on the verge of very ripe farce. Unexpected guests, aging spinsters, errant phone cords, and other snares impede his frantic attempts to return the purloined items before light is restored.”

About the play Phan commented, “Peter Shaffer originally wrote the play with Dame Maggie Smith in mind. The play combines both physical comedy and witty dialogue into a hilarious study of the class system. Brindsley desperately wants acceptance from the upper class, but he resorts to petty theft to get it.”

Originally from Rome, Ga., Phan first turned to theatre as a means of distraction. “It was escapism – a way to get away from home and spend more time with friends. I played football, but after a few injuries I decided to focus more on art. I realized how much theatre fit my personality through its spontaneity and constant adaptation. I grew into [theatre] and began to love it more and more. I realized this is what I’m meant to do.”

When he first arrived at King, Phan wasn’t sure what direction he would take with theatre. “Now, it is just who I am - that love of a temporary art that allows you to live right here; the feeling that this emotion will not be as clear on video as it is in person. When a friend tells you about a theatre experience, it isn’t ‘so this is what happened;’ it is ‘so you’ve got to come see this.’ It is the live theatre that really attracts me. As much as I enjoy doing film, the live theatre productions are where my heart is.”

Recently, Phan had the opportunity to perform in an Off-Broadway production authored by Alaska Reece Vance, lecturer in Theatre for King University. The play was titled, “Feeding the Subject.”  “[Professor Vance] needed an actor to fill in; I had two days to memorize lines and blocking and get into character. We performed in New York City one street away from Broadway. It was an amazing experience.”

Phan plans to continue on at King one additional year to finish up a second major in Photography. Afterwards, he plans to relocate to a large metropolitan area. His career plans include a focus on the administrative side of theatre, utilizing his skills in technology, imaging, and design to work with theatrical photography.

“I’ve tried my best to combine both worlds – how to use my skills in photography to assist theatre and the theatrical skill set to provide opportunities for my photography. The life of an actor is not for me; the life of the artist is what I want. I want to live the life of theatre.”

Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy,” directed by Trung Phan, will be performed Feb. 27- March 1 at 7: 30 p.m. at the Fine Arts Theatre at King University’s Bristol campus.


King University is a Presbyterian, master's-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.