Student capstone to replace mainstage in February

Sofia Bouma — Staff writer

Though the Dordt University Theatre Department’s Spring Mainstage show is postponed until the end of April, Almost Lifelong, a one act play written and directed by senior Sommer Schaap, is set for Feb. 24 and 25 in the 4th Avenue Theater.

These performance dates are almost two months ahead of when Almost Lifelong was originally set to be produced. The Theatre Department asked Schaap if her one-act might be produced in February instead of April during the first week of classes.

“It’s been a really, really, really quick process, and I think that was a little bit unexpected for me,” Schaap said.

But fortunately, there are some pros to the expedited production process. Schaap’s play had been selected to be read and workshopped in the American College Theater Festival, or ACTF, which took place from Jan. 22-28. Schaap was able to attend the week-long festival in Des Moines, an experience which contributed to the production of her play.

“In a way, I’m glad that it’s this quick of a turnaround because I had a lot of good feedback from ACTF and from other people who have read [the script],” Schaap said.

The 40-minute one-act play Almost Lifelong, in Schaap’s own words, is about two characters named “Beck and Ezra, who become close friends despite the family issues and health problems that they each face. They lean on each other through it all, but what happens when one of them doesn’t have the other?”

The production of Almost Lifelong serves as Schaap’s senior capstone project for the Theatre Arts Department and is one example of the student work that is annually produced in the 4th Avenue Theatre. These projects are a showcase of what theater majors have learned through both the academic and practicum aspects of their education throughout college.

Capstone projects are deeply valued by students and faculty of the Theatre Arts Department alike and can take any number of forms.

“We’ve had students write and stage original musicals. Students design [and] students direct shows in the community,” theatre arts professor Theresa Ter Haar said. “If a student can come up with an idea that we can support, we’ll make it happen.”

The projects also turn knowledge into hands-on action.

“It’s a way for us to offer our students a deep and broad experience in a way that will help them show and develop their skills in whatever their area of passion and talent lies,” Ter Haar said.

Even though not all student productions are shown in the Te Paske, they are just as valuable as on any mainstage.

“Our student projects are some of the most vital work we do here because we are all here to help the students have the best learning experience possible,” Ter Haar said. “It is absolutely something that people should come see because you’re going to see students owning the work and stretching their gifts and skills.”

Photo credit: Dordt University Theater

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