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Program cover of "Failure: A Love Story"



Failure: A Love Story

by Phillip Dawkins 


Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc.

Special thanks to Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Master Arts Theatre, and Actor’s Theatre for lending their props and furniture!


For as long as there has been art, artists have taken death as their subject. We can see it in the caves of Lascaux and in Egyptian dramatized ritual that predates Greek Tragedy by centuries. By the Renaissance, artists had begun dropping in reminders of death - memento mori - into works that were seemingly not centered on death. Hans Holbein the Younger’s “The Ambassadors” (1533) is one of the most famous examples of this. Holbein paints two well-to-do merchants and diplomats posing in front of various artifacts of travel and culture - a globe, a spyglass, a lute, and so on. At the bottom of the painting, however, is a figure that is difficult to understand at first glance. If one looks at the painting from a very specific angle, however, it is easy to see that Holbein has hidden the image of a skull in plain sight. 

Holbein’s use of memento mori in “The Ambassadors” reminds us that the achievements and pleasures of today will always come to the same end - death. This isn’t a reason to give up on our achievements - after all, Holbein’s skull does not erase or blot out the rest of the painting. It reminds us that our time is precious. Other types of memento mori - cut flowers, hourglasses, clocks, and so on - remind us of the same thing. Our lives are precious because they end. Time is precious because it will run out. Once we take this to heart, every moment and every interaction become more important. These women may be named “Fail,” but their accomplishments and relationships are as successful as they are brief. We may share the same end, but this only makes our individual paths to that end all the more important. Death isn’t a failure, but the natural end of a particular chapter or story.

Philip Dawkins himself puts it best right here in the play: “Just because something ends, that don’t mean it wasn’t a great success.”



Mortimer Mortimer Carson LePage
Gerty Fail Katie Schneider-Thomas*
Jenny June Fail Shannon Heldt*
Nelly Fail Michaela Faith
John N. Fail Atlan Lasher
Chorus, Henry Fail, Counter Clock, December, Door, Dodd Joshua Hernández
Chorus, Gramophone, Cuckoo Clock, Moses, Doctor Gabrielle Lee
Chorus, Grantland Rice, Wall Clock, Mae Annah Stang
Chorus, Marietta Fail, Grandfather Clock, Pal Eileen Zielke



Director Scott Harman
Stage Manager Annmarie Puzio*
Assistant Stage Manager Drew Huegli*, Fiona Walsh
Set Designer Kelsey Edwards
Costume Designer Allyson Albrecht
Lighting Designer Catherine Marlett-Dreher
Sound Designer Kyle Los
Props Designer Gabby Rane
Intimacy Coordinator Scott Harman
Lightboard Rhodey Matzke
Soundboard Mallory Ignasiak
Soundboard (Sunday Only) Megan Schnipke*
Scene Shop Assistant Fiona Walsh
Theatre Office Assistant Katie Schneider-Thomas*
Graphic Designer Shannon Heldt*
Director of Theatre Production Scott Harman



Michaela FaithMichaela Faith (Nelly Fail) (she/her) is a freshman at Aquinas College who is currently undecided on her major. She has been involved in many theatrical productions before college, including The Wizard of Oz, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Sound of Music, and more! Michaela hopes to continue pursuing theatre for many more years to come.
Shannon HeldtShannon Heldt (Jenny June Fail) (she/her) is currently a senior at Aquinas College majoring in Theatre with minors in Music (Voice) and Communication. She is so happy to be back on the AQ stage for her last production as an actor before she graduates in December. Her most notable credits include Eurydice/other in Metamorphoses (Aquinas College), Loud Stone in Eurydice (GRCC Players), Aramis in The Three Musketeers (Circle Theatre), and Poppy the Stagehand in The Play That Goes Wrong (Circle Theatre). Shannon hopes to continue her love for acting in community theatre and working in the business side of it in the future! She gives a massive thank you to her parents and friends for supporting her throughout the years - she couldn’t have done it without you all!
Joshua HernandezJoshua Hernández (Chorus) (he/him) is a senior studying Psychology and Spanish at Aquinas College. He hasn’t done theater since high school but fondly remembers Hello Dolly and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Joshua wants to thank his family members for their help and patience. He hopes you all enjoy the show!
Atlan LasherAtlan Lasher (John N. Fail) (they/them) is currently a freshman at Aquinas College, and they are originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. They intend to major in English Writing and Dual Minor in Theatre and History. This is their first production at Aquinas College, and they are very excited to be a part of a large-scale production. Some of their past roles include Robin Hood in The Very Unmerry Adventures of Robin Hood and Irene in My Man Godfrey.
Gabrielle LeeGabrielle Lee (Chorus) (she/her) is a sophomore at Aquinas College studying Theatre with an Emphasis on Musical Performance. Her favorite previous credits include Nala in The Lion King, The Sour Kangaroo in Seussical, Aphrodite in Metamorphoses, and Judy Bernly in 9 to 5. Gabrielle thanks you for coming and hopes you enjoy the show.
Carson LePageCarson LePage (Mortimer Mortimer) (he/him) is a sophomore at Aquinas College, currently majoring in Theatre. Last year, he acted in Metamorphoses and Ada and The Engine. He thanks the cast and crew for being wonderful people to work with throughout this process. Finally he also thanks his family for their support, guidance, and love. He hopes you enjoy the show!
Katie Schneider-ThomasKatie Schneider-Thomas (Gerty Fail) (she/her) is a senior at Aquinas studying Theatre and Communication with a minor in German. This is her seventh show at Aquinas including The Thanksgiving Play, Metamorphoses, and Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Katie also served as the Assistant Director and Intimacy Coordinator for Aquinas’ production of Ada and the Engine and will be directing a show for the Student-Directed One Act Festival later this semester. Additionally, she is the president for AQ’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega. She thanks her wonderful friends and family for their love and FaceTime calls.
Annah StangAnnah Stang (Chorus) (she/her) is so thankful you are here to watch this beautiful production. A lifelong theatre enthusiast, while she is not on the stage, she is certainly enjoying other forms of art in the vibrant Grand Rapids Community. She is also a colorguard coach and performer, as well as involved in Grand Rapids Chamber Choir. She thanks her family and friends for their continued support of her many interests.
Eileen ZielkeEileen Zielke (Chorus) (she/her) is a senior studying English Literature. As an art enthusiast, she is thrilled to be joining the cast this year in her first production at Aquinas College, Failure: A Love Story! She would like to show appreciation to her family and friends for their encouragement. She extends her gratitude to AQ Theatre for welcoming her with open arms inspiring her as she grows as a performer. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou



Scott Harman (Director) (he/him) is Assistant Professor of Theatre and Director of Theatre Production at Aquinas College.He is a PhD Candidate in Theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds an MA in Theatre History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Theatre and Dance from Alma College. He has taught at Grand Valley State University, Alma College, Parkland College, and he is a longtime summer faculty member at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has worked as an actor, director, technician, teacher, and playwright at various theatre companies and schools around the country. As a scholar and researcher, he works extensively on acting theory and pedagogy.

Annmarie Puzio (Stage Manager) (she/her) is currently a senior at Aquinas College studying Child Life, with a minor in Theatre. This is Annmarie’s fifth time as a stage manager at Aquinas College, previous credits including Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, Big Smoke and Metamorphoses. Annmarie hopes to continue her journey in theatre and one day become a professional stage manager. She gives a special thank you and dedication to the late Doré Furstenberg who helped foster her deep love for theatre. “Some of my favorite people” ~ Doré Furstenberg 2019

Drew Huegli (Assistant Stage Manager) (he/him) is a Junior at Aquinas College studying Communications with an Emphasis in Theatre and a minor in Biology. Theatre has been a part of Drew’s life for as long as he can remember. Some of the past shows he has been a part of are You Can’t Take It With You, The Pirate Show, Addams Family, Mary Poppins, If They’d Only Let Me at East Grand Rapids High School as well as School of Rock at Grand Rapids Civic Theater, and Frozen Jr and Footloose at Stage GR. His theatre productions at Aquinas include Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, The Arkansaw Bear, Head Over Heels, and The Thanksgiving Play. Drew has loved being the assistant stage manager for this production. Drew also works as a Diversity Assistant for the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity at Aquinas. Drew thanks his friends, family, and instructors for all of their support throughout the years. He would not be where he is today without it. He also gives a special shout out to Annmarie for keeping him on even though she has to deal with all of his craziness!

Fiona Walsh (Assistant Stage Manager) (she/her) is currently a sophomore at Aquinas College. She is double majoring in Theatre and Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing. Failure: A Love Story will be Fiona’s fourth show with Aquinas. Her previous credits include; Metamorphoses (ASM), The Thanksgiving Play (SM), and 9 to 5 (ASM) as well as working in the scene shop as a carpenter. When Fiona is not doing something with the theatre program, she is the secretary of Aquinas’ Student Senate.

Kelsey Edwards (Set Designer) (she/her) is a graduate of Adrian College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre. She has been involved in many productions as a technical director and stage manager. Kelsey is very excited to be working as technical director for this season at Aquinas College. She also has experience in scenic design, costume design, and property master. As of recent, Kelsey has worked on The Moors (2021), Blithe Spirit (2021), Spitfire Grill (2021), and Abigail/1702 (2022) as a technical director.

Catie Marlett-Dreher (Light Designer) (she/her) has designed lights for over 300 productions in the West Michigan area, including shows for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Circle Theatre, Actors’ Theatre, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids, Aquinas College, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Cornerstone University. Aquinas credits include: I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Distracted, Dracula, The Illusion, A Year With Frog and Toad, Love and Information, Enchanted April, Arabian Nights, Hotel Cassiopeia and many more. She works as the Production Manager and Resident Lighting Designer at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

Allyson Albrecht (Costume Designer) (she/her) graduated from GVSU with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Classics. During her time with Grand Valley, she assisted with over 13 shows, from King Lear to Jungle Book. Her post-graduate design includes projects with Gloria, Indecent and 9 to 5 with GVSU, Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids and Aquinas College respectively. She is excited to return to Aquinas and help with Failure: A Love Story.

Kyle Los (Sound Designer) (he/him) is the Executive and Artistic Director of Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids. He has served as Sound Designer for various Aquinas College productions as well as Scenic Designer for The Thanksgiving Play and Assistant Director for The Foreigner. Kyle has designed sound regionally for Actors’ Theatre, Grand Rapids Community College, and Circle Theatre. As a
director, his credits include Hundred Days (Director), Petty Crimes (Co-Director), Sweat (Co-Director), and August: Osage County (Assistant Director) with Actors’ Theatre, Eurydice (Assistant Director) with Grand Rapids Community College, and Motherfucker with a Hat (Assistant Director) with Mixed Roots Collective. As an actor, Kyle has been in numerous shows with Actors’ Theatre and Circle Theatre, and received Grand Awards for his performances in Hair, Venus in Fur, and Other Desert Cities.

Gabby Rane (Props Designer) (she/they) is so excited to be prop designing for the first time here at Aquinas College. As an alumni of Aquinas, she holds a B.A. in Theatre with a Technical Emphasis. As well as prop designing, Gabby is currently stage managing Carrie the Musical with Betka-Pope Productions. This year’s credits also include Ensemble in 9 to 5 at Aquinas College, Mother/Ensemble in Three Musketeers at Circle Theatre, and costume assistant to Jess Luiz for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Sweeney Todd. Gabby has previously worked behind the scenes with Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, Ebony Road Players, and Civic Theatre. If she isn’t doing theatre things, you can find Gabby at home cuddling her cat, making dinner, or slinging drinks as a barista. She thanks her boyfriend Patrick for his unending support and her family and friends for their continuous encouragement.

Penny Avery (Theatre Program Director) (she/her) joined the Aquinas College faculty in 1994 and currently serves as both the Communication Department Chairperson and the Theatre Program Director with a PhD in Communication from Michigan State University and a MA and BS from Central Michigan University in Secondary Education with certification in English and Speech/Theatre. She was a member of the facility planning team when the Performing Arts Center was designed and loves to see the space being utilized to share arts with diverse audiences through Aquinas College’s partnerships with Community Circle Theatre and the Grand Rapids Catholic Schools. In her early years at AQ, she taught Children’s Theatre (suitably renamed Theatre for Youth and Education) and directed several productions, including The Great Cross Country Race and Charlotte’s Web.


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