C of I theatre set for spring play 'The Water Engine'

The College of Idaho Department of Theatre & Speech Arts will bring audiences back into the days of radio plays with its spring theatre production, The Water Engine. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet’s dramatic, 1977 send up of 1934’s Chicago World’s Fair, follows the rise of an amateur inventor’s clever engine design that threatens to change the landscape of energy technology forever.

C of I’s production, directed by Deborah Penrod, will show at 7:30 p.m. April 6-8 and April 13-15, with 2 p.m. Sunday matinee performances on April 9 and April 15. The play will be held in the Studio Theatre of the Langroise Center for Performing & Fine Arts, with tickets sold for $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and non-C of I students. C of I students, staff and faculty receive free tickets.

“It’s a play that’s filled with a little bit of mystery,” Penrod said. “Even though it was written in the late 70s, Mamet back then was speaking out about a lot of the same struggles that we’re continuing to deal with in our current day. We think we’ve advanced, and we have a bit, but we still take a few steps back as we continue taking steps to move forward.”

The Water Engine was first developed by Mamet as a radio play for the National Public Radio production Earplay, but was later adapted for the stage by Steven Schachter, receiving a nomination for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play in 1978. C of I’s production acknowledges the play’s roots in radio in a unique fashion, using a minimalist set to pantomime much of the action as other actors produce live sound effects in a booth on the side of the stage, using everything from trash can lids and typewriters to their own voices to supplement each scene.

“This has been the most interesting theatre experience I’ve been part of,” said Andres Maldonado, a junior theatre major who plays the role of inventor Charles Lang. “I love that the set-up gives you a lot of freedom for imagination, and I really like the setting of Chicago and its dark, gritty film noir style that accurately reflects the mood of the piece.”

Maldonado is joined by a cast of talented student actors, including Casey Alcoser, John Wicks, Austin Murray, Katherine Lizarraga, Madison Hartwell, Brittney Maine, Gillian McFalls, David Garrison, Alexander Sproule-Fendel and Tristan Beauchaine. The production also features scenic and lighting design by Mike Hartwell, costume design by Carole Whiteleather and Deborah Penrod, and sound design by Fred Loucks.

For tickets and additional information, call the Langroise Box Office at (208) 459-5426.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit