The UW-Fond du Lac Theater Department will present “How the World Began” by Catherine Trieschmann Oct. 28-Nov. 3 in the Prairie Theater, 400 University Dr. Show times are Monday at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The play is produced and directed by UW-Fond du Lac communication and theater arts professor Richard Gustin and features UW-Fond du Lac students, alumni and community members as part of the production.
The plot centers on a Manhattan woman who travels to a rural town in Kansas, recently devastated by a tornado, to take a teaching job in a makeshift high school.
“But, when she makes an off-handed remark regarding the origins of life, she unleashes community outrage and the particular distress of a disturbed young boy,” said Gustin.
"How The World Began" has two alternating casts performing the show. One cast is comprised of UW-Fond du Lac students Emily Stewart and Ryan Ducham along with community actor Dan Derge. The second cast includes UW-Fond du Lac students Aubrey Stucke and Nathaniel Hounsell and community actor Jerry Martin. UW-Fond du Lac student Michael Woodley understudies.
Gustin adds that each cast brings their own unique interpretation of the play. “They're really two different productions. I'm hoping that the more adventurous audience goer will want to see both casts and compare them and in that way have a deeper experience of Catherine's work.”
During his twenty years directing the UW-Fond du Lac theater program, Gustin said he has been increasingly focused on new American plays that challenge students and the community to address socially-relevant issues.
The play poses some interesting questions according to Gustin. “What are the limits of a teacher/student relationship? Who has the power in the classroom? In an age of high stakes litigation what are the rules in education? Can we abide a person that does not think as we do regarding the most fundamental questions of life? There's a lot to chew on in this production."
UW-Fond du Lac student Katie Fenner and alumnus and Marian University student Alan Drake and alumna Rachel Reinbold serve as stage managers. Bruce Towell is technical director and alumus Andy Sehloff is lighting designer. The technical crew is comprised of UW-Fond du Lac students Peyton Lehew, Nikki Davis, Seth Baumgart, Kyle Winter and Gilberto Casteneda.
Gustin and Eric Boos, philosophy; David Demezas, biology; Trish Strohfeldt, biology; Ron Theys, chemistry; and William Whitehead, anthropology/sociology, along with their classes, are involved in a campus-wide interdisciplinary studies project connected to the production. These students are studying the play from their specific disciplines and will come together for a group discussion at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, in the Henken Room (A-219). The public is invited.
Playwright Catherine Trieschmann will be joining this discussion via Skype.
“She is a unique and dynamic female voice in the American theater,” said Gustin. “She's an important artist in our understanding of where theater as an art form is taking us in the 21st century.”
Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students. UW-Fond du Lac students can attend free with ID on Oct. 28 and 29. Purchase tickets at the UW-Fond du Lac Business Office, by calling (920) 929-1111 or at the door. This production contains adult language and may not be suitable for all ages.