Student Bill Hanley debuts self-written play Debts to the Devil

by Lauren Medeiros, Arts & Entertainment Editor

This past weekend the 20 Cent Fiction theatre company debuted a never-before-seen play in the main auditorium, written and directed by senior Bill Hanley.

The play, titled Debts to the Devil, was a project that senior crime and justice studies major Bill Hanley started working on in high school. He completed it after coming to UMass Dartmouth, and wanted to see it produced and put up on stage.

As a long-time member of 20 Cent Fiction and The Dartmouth Theatre Company (TCo), Hanley pitched the ideas to 20 Cent last Spring, and was given the go-ahead to produce the show this Fall.

Set within the medieval time period of the Crusades, Debts to the Devil begins with the story of a poor farmer named Richard, his wife Aberdeen, and his daughter Victoria.

The main plotline of the story follows a deal made with the Devil, played by Lionel Lafleur. In exchange for getting Richard out of the war, the Devil will receive his most valuable possession, which eventually turns out to be the man’s daughter.

The story unfolds from there, and we watch the two young lovers John and Victoria fight to be wed and oppose a mysterious man named Scratch (the Devil) who Victoria has been promised to.

Punctuated by moments of hilarity and seriousness, Hanley’s writing taking time to be both dramatic and playful as well.

Hanley tried to model his work off of Shakespeare, drawing inspiration from characters such as the Porter from Macbeth and the town drunkard from Much Ado About Nothing.

Lionel Lafleur, a previous member of the MacGuyver Experience and current member of TCo and 20 Cent, assisted him as well. He helped with auditions for the project during its initial cold-reading, and eventually took on the main role of the Devil.

Lafleur mentioned that the story personally allowed him to take his skills and work in a new direction.

He commented that “people expect me to be in a comedic role,” and said it was probably a shock for some in the audience to see him with such an air of seriousness. For him, the role was “new and exciting [and allowed me] to be more sinister.”

The cast featured old members of the company and new alike, working together to put up the new show.

One such newcomer is Samantha Snell, a first-year biology major. She played Victoria, the farmer’s daughter, and described the character as someone who is “very innocent.” To get into character for the role, she said she had “to channel her inner Snow White.”

This was her first role in a college play, but had acted previously in musicals for high school and middle school.

Overall, the production was a success. Chuckles were audible from the audience throughout the duration of the performance, and graduate student Jack Tiernan’s appearance at the end proved to be a crowd favorite.

After the performance, the crowd filtered out into the lobby outside of the auditorium to greet and congratulate the cast. Hanley could be seen among his cast and crew, beaming at their achievements.

The last student-contributed piece they performed was in the Spring of 2015, written by recent graduate Ryan Tamulevicz and titled A Charity for Curiosities. Historically, 20 Cent has been known to host student-written work, and encourages community involvement with the company.

The company asks that anyone interested in theater or stage work contacts them at, and they will answer any questions given to them.

Additionally, 20 Cent Fiction will be holding auditions for their Spring Musical Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens during the spring semester.

Anyone who is interested in the production is invited to come, and should prepare a short vocal selection and a brief comedic monologue.

Auditions will take place on January 31 and February 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in CVPA room 101.

Staff Writer John Moniz contributed to this piece.

Photo Courtesy: John Moniz


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