Audra Kooi – Staff Writer
On Oct. 20, the lights will come up on a new season of productions for the Dordt University Theatre Arts Department.
Productions aren’t built in a day. Director Laurel Koerner has been working with the lead designers since the end of last semester to create a cohesive aesthetic for the upcoming performances of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
In addition to traditional lighting and scenic design, this production incorporates a new challenge: projections. When using projections, a thin material called scrim is hung across the back of the stage and projectors shine onto the back of it, creating a hazy image. Sophomore Malorie DeKam began working over the summer with the new equipment that will debut later this month.
These projections are not the only aspect unique to Dordt’s production. The story is set in the 20th century, but the designers have worked to bridge the timeline and create a refresh.
“We wanted to blend two worlds,” Koerner said. “We want it to feel like it’s now and not just then.”
Costumes are an important part of mixing the timeline. Koerner worked with costume designer Becky Donahue to create Victorianinspired costumes that reflect the old, nostalgic feelings of the story while also bringing it into a modern age.
The production team has weekly meetings to ensure each piece fits within the whole. Team members are responsible for coming up with their own visions to be compiled with others to form a cohesive aesthetic.
Designs, however, are incomplete without actors to fill the stage. Actors auditioned for their roles in the first few weeks of school, and the rehearsals began shortly after.
Cast members spent countless hours memorizing lines, running and re-running scenes, and perfecting blocking and transitions. They learned how to collaborate with each other as well as two child actors who appear in various parts of the show.
The show focuses on what is lasting, so sets and props are minimal.
“Be open to being moved,” Koerner said.
Wilder created a story that de-emphasizes earthly things, and he forces audiences to look at themselves and be unsettled by their own actions.
“Our Town” will show at the Te Paske Theatre in the Sioux Center middle school on Oct. 20-22, 27, and 29 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee showing at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29. Tickets are available at dordt.ticketleap.com.
Photo credit: Audra Kooi