Unfortunately, this year’s performance of Hamlet is the latter. After considerable debate, the staff and administration decided that the Dordt Theatre Department’s spring production of Hamlet would not be performed. The decision was difficult for all involved, as students and faculty alike had put in hours of work towards the production. “I know the hours spent in preparations on the part of the production team, designers, technicians, and actors,” stated theater professor Teresa Ter Haar, “I regret that that work can’t be shared publicly.”
According to all involved, the experience was invaluable, even if an actual performance will never happen. The student cast as Hamlet, junior Nate Scheuers, stated that “the experience was definitely valuable . . . Disappointment is a valuable experience, too. Life doesn’t always work out how we want it and sometimes that is really good to experience . . . there is still a life to live and theatre to do. I’m not going to waste it wishing for Hamlet to come back–I’m going to live it and be awesome like always.”
So where does Dordt theatre head from here? With two respected professor leaving and the spring show cancelled, it would be all too easy for the department to hang their heads in pity and expect others to feel sorry for them. But the department is already busy replacing staff and planning next semester, with one new hire currently set to begin in August. Josiah Wallace, who is graduating from Baylor in May with his MFA in directing, will be moving to Sioux Center this summer with his family in order to begin his duties as the new acting/directing professor. The search for a technical director is still underway, with one candidate already being interviewed and a second one set to interview this week.
Plans for next semester are also underway. “Next semester will be a good one,” Ter Haar said. It will certainly be a bit of a “rebuilding” semester as we integrate two new members into the department, plus a strong incoming freshmen class of theatre students. We’re planning some different types of theatre events in order to accommodate all the new members of the department (both staff and students).” Among these events include a series of theatre-related workshops, as well as several student-directed pieces, including theatre major Nathan Spark’s senior show. Unfortunately, due to time constraints put on by new staff hires, there will be no main stage production during Parent’s Weekend. However, a main stage show is being planned for the spring, along with Nate Scheuer’s senior project, which plans to bring plenty of excitement.
Although the cancelling of Hamlet was tough to swallow for all involved, the department’s close-knit, family atmosphere proved to be invaluable as members of the cast and crew dealt with the disappointment. “Theatre is awesome,” Scheuers stated, “Even though we had this major setback, we are all very strong and tight enough to get through anything together.”
“I have personally been so grateful for the support and understanding of our students during this difficult time,” Ter Haar wrote, “Whenever I have doubts or concerns about what I do, I think of the students I work with – both theatre students and students in my classes – and those doubts melt away.”
Theatre may not be the most glamorous activity on campus; it may not be the most well-funded, popular, or even appreciated. But for those who truly love theatre, nothing else Dordt has to offer is more important. Those who have stepped out on a limb and involved themselves in the department have found much more than some crazy students and loving professors, they have found open arms accepting them into a family.