‘University’ life


by James Tillison

College life, movement and dance will be explored this semester as Simpson College’s theater department puts on two shows: “University” and “Alice’s Trip: A Movement Adventure.”

Assistant Professor of Theater, Ann Woldt, will direct “University,” a play written by Jon Jory. The play focuses on telling the stories of college-aged students through multiple scenes, said Anastasia Abraham, the play’s assistant stage manager.

“The writer of this play, Jon Jory, wrote it that way because he taught theatre at a university, and he found that there weren’t very many roles for college actors to act our age,” Abraham said. “So, he wrote this play to give his students the opportunity to act their age.”

The play contains a “good mix” of both comedy and tragedy, Abraham said. Junior Douglas Cole, one of the actors in “University,” said the play’s multiple scenes allow him to act in four different roles.

“I actually have four roles, and they are all based on college students like the ones at Simpson,” he said.

The show will run from Oct. 12 through Oct. 14 and from Oct. 19 until Oct. 21. It will take place in the Barnum Studio Theatre.

Professor of Theatre Arts, Jennifer Ross Nostrala, wrote the second play of the semester, “Alice’s Trip.” She will also be directing the production.

“The performance is based on Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’ stories with the premise that the theater space itself is the rabbit hole,” Nostrala said. ”The production uses a lot of dance and movement as well as puppets, video and other theatrical elements. The body moving in space expresses Alice’s emotional and psychological experience in the world.”

Nostrala said that she was inspired to write “Alice’s Trip” by a performance art piece that was developed last fall by a first-year Simpson Colloquium class. She then saw the film “Pina,” a film about German choreographer Pina Bausch.

The film pushed her to thinking even more about how dance and movement can be an exciting way to communicate to an audience, she said.

“Around the same time, I was also reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with the thought that I might want to do a production of it sometime. It didn’t take me long to put these two ideas together,” Nostrala said. “I chose the working title ‘Alice’s Trip: A Movement Adventure’ to help focus the project and also to set the audience up to know that it wasn’t going to be a literal retelling of the stories.”

Nostrala says that it is their intent to capture the audience’s imagination with each new scene.

“I want the audience to be surprised,” Nostrala said.

Alice’s Trip will be shown in Pote Theatre on Nov. 16 through Nov. 18. Tickets will go on sale in early November.