Rachel Mondragon rehearses a scene from the play “Catholic Girl Gun Club” at Hanover College on Tuesday.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Rachel Mondragon rehearses a scene from the play “Catholic Girl Gun Club” at Hanover College on Tuesday.

(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Hanover College's first theater production of the year will bring a playwright's dark comedy to the stage for the first time anywhere.

Stacia Saint Owens' "Catholic Girl Gun Club" appears on stage in debut performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The play has never been performed on stage before, Owens said, but the script has been featured in three readings over the years.

"This is the first time on its feet," Owens said. "It's just so exciting when all the elements come together."

Owens, a Kansas native who now lives in London, England, began writing the play as a graduate student at Brown University in 2000.

"It's changed a lot since then," she said, yet the basic ideas of the play remain the same.

The play highlights the worries of a possible Communist takeover in a small Kansas town during the 1920s.

"I think it is ideal to have it performed in a community," Owens said.

Raised to defend their home if necessary, the gun club of a local Catholic school deals with the pressures and ideals of the era. Mary Ellen is the smartest girl in school and the best shot on Sister Mary's rifle team, and she dreams of life as a scientist or finding a Hollywood romance after graduation. Yet a fateful moment in front of the altar will determine her choice, a release said.

The play also features adult themes and language, including expressions of sexuality and racism, the release said.

Hanover professor Jim Stark met Owens during a reading of the play at the Hilton Head Island New Play Festival in South Carolina, where he read the part of the priest.

"I just couldn't get it out of my head," Stark said.

He continued to keep in contact with Owens and began making preparations to bring the play to Hanover College as the first play of the 2012-2013 theater season.

The production features more than 20 student actors, Stark said, and the play offers ideas and thoughts of people that transcend eras.

Actors performed dress rehearsals this week with Owens in attendance. Owens also plans to attend the weekend performances as she gets a first glimpse of her play performed on the stage.

Performances of "Catholic Girl Gun Club" will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 65 and older and $5 for youth in high school and under. The show is free for people with a current Hanover College ID card.

Season subscribers to the Community Arts Series also receive a free season pass to the college's four main-stage theater productions.

Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the Hanover College Box Office at (812) 866-7110. Tickets will also be available at the door before performances while available.