SAU Alumni Star at Playcrafters


On September 28, curtains opened for the Night Owl production of Stephen Karam's Speech and Debate at the Playcrafter's Barn Theatre.

The production was directed by St. Ambrose alum Max Moline ‘17 and starred a cast entirely of SAU Theatre alumni Jordan Webster-Moore ‘17, Jordan McGinnis '17, and Helene Devine ‘17.

Speech and Debate is a comedy about nervous and conflicted student reporter Solomon (Webster-Moore), smart-mouthed homosexual student Howie (McGinnis), who just wants to start a gay-straight alliance, and bombastic, eccentric theatre student Diwata (Devine), who is determined to correct her director's mistake of not giving her a lead.

The three meet each other and hatch a plan to expose their theatre teacher, who has been caught in sexual encounters with several teenagers. Through the pursuit of justice, passion and a lot of blackmail, the young teens find friendship with each other and grow one step closer to accepting themselves.

Moline is already an accomplished director and won first runner-up in the SDC directing competition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Still, Speech and Debate marked a milestone as Moline's first professional gig. While the script was a challenge for Moline, it was a rewarding one.

"Speech and Debate is very a character-driven piece and a comedy – two things I haven't done nearly as much as I should have as a director," Moline said. "I felt doing this play would help me grow as a director."

three people

Speech and Debate

Playcrafter's Barn Theatre Features 2017 Theatre Alums

The production was directed by St. Ambrose alum Max Moline ‘17 and starred a cast entirely of SAU Theatre alumni Jordan Webster-Moore ‘17, Jordan McGinnis '17, and Helene Devine ‘17.

One specific design challenge was the several different locations throughout the play. Moline approached this challenge by utilizing a minimalistic set consisting completely of black, wooden boxes.

"I didn't want a large set because I felt it could distract from the three kids and their journey," Moline said. "I didn't want to litter the stage with a bunch of doors and chalkboards and diner seats. I wanted the audience to see the characters."

The lighting in the show was also very simple with consistent light blues and oranges. The rest of the space was filled by a large projection screen at the back of the stage. These were used to show pictures of the various locations to make each scene's setting clearer. The screen was also used to depict several text conversations that were backed by music to give the play whimsical elements.

Along with this were several short musical numbers sung with drunken vigor by Diwata. In addition, there was a full four-minute dance number to George Michael's "Freedom."

Speech and Debate was a small-scale production absolutely packed with alumni. Also, this was not the end of Moline's directing career. For a change of pace, he is slated to direct James and the Giant Peach at Davenport Junior Theatre in the fall. Moline will surely utilize his training as an SAU theatre major to continue his growth as a director.

Share This Story

Theatre Newsletter | News
thea with husband

After nearly nine years of service to the University, piano instructor Thea Engleson retired this past summer.

Read More

Theatre Newsletter | News
three students

This newly formed club has seen many positive changes since last year, including increased membership and a plethora of new activities being offered.

Read More


In just the few short weeks she has been at St. Ambrose, first-year student Amber Cook is already immersing herself in the St. Ambrose Theatre scene.

Read More

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 29 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!