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From the Classroom to the Stage

December 16, 2015

In order to refine their developing theatrical skills, the BA students within the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance participate in two “Creative Collaboration” projects each semester to present to the greater University of Minnesota community. These Creative Collaborations are considered “devised productions” in which the students work together with a department faculty member to create an entirely original production based on source material that they are provided with, such as a book or an article. The final product of the Creative Collaboration is a show ready to perform, complete with scenes, a script, and a narrative based on the students’ original interpretation of the source material. The two Creative Collaboration projects for fall 2015 were “ValleyScare” in October and “A Penny for Brecht” in December.

“ValleyScare” was not the typical theatre show that takes place on stage. Instead, the students worked in partnership with ValleyFair amusement park in Shakopee in order to produce a haunted maze based on “The lsland of Dr. Moreau.” Through this production, students learned the basic skills required of designers, stage managers, makeup artists and mask-makers, while simultaneously gaining performing experience from a new perspective. This project, guided by faculty member Luverne Seifert and guest theatre artist Jim Lichtscheidl, provided the perfect opportunity to showcase the department’s talent to a broad Minnesota audience.

The students recently presented their second Creative Collaboration, “A Penny for Brecht," in the Nolte Xperimental Theatre in Rarig Center. Framed as an open “rehearsal” with Brecht actively imagining his work with his actors, this show explores the life of the renowned theatrical revolutionary, and offers a critically engaging look into his attempts to address capitalism on stage.  

Both of these outstanding Creative Collaboration pieces not only gave students opportunities to explore a variety of theatrical skills, but they also provided opportunities to connect with community through the art of performance. From the gruesome horrors of “ValleyScare,” to the intellectually stimulating wit of “A Penny for Brecht,” the BA students showed that their talents are diverse indeed.

This workshop prepares audiences for the department’s upcoming Weill & Brecht Festival productions of Threepenny Opera and Lady in the Dark that will be presented in the spring of 2016 in collaboration with the School of Music.

“Creative Collaborations are not your average shows. We students work very hard to produce a show on our own that not only captures the essence of the original story, but also showcases our different talents from playwriting to performing,” said sophomore Sam Norum who played the role of Macheath. “Performing gives us the opportunity to showcase our efforts to the rest of the community.”

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.