Party fouls, spiders, and love: Theater department plans diverse production season

by Crystal Branden

As the school year begins, the theatre department gears up for an exciting year. With four main stage productions and three second stage productions, the department has a lot in store.

The first production of the year is “Really Really” by Paul Colaizzo and directed by Craig A. Ellingson, Director of the theatre department. “Really Really” shows Wednesday, Oct. 7 through Saturday, Oct. 10 on the Gaede stage. “Really Really” revolves around a college frat party and the ramifications of said party. The message of the show is “one night can change your life” and promotes making good choices and methods of sexual assault prevention.

The serious subjects of “Really Really” has the department working with FYE classes – using the message as a way of educating students. There will be a post-show discussion for “Really Really” and information about organizations that can help process some of the information presented in the show.

“The fall show evolves around some adult content like violence and language – it’s a different impact seeing it right in front of you than seeing it on a movie screen,” Ellingson said.

The second main stage production is “Stories of Anasi,” an original production written and directed by David Wheeler, a retired professor, and shows Saturday, Nov. 21 in Hansen Theatre. “Stories of Anasi” is this year’s annual children’s show. It tells the stories of Anasi, the African god of storytelling that manifested himself as a spider.

“We’ve been producing children’s shows here for over 50 years. “Stories of Anasi” is a bunch of fables and stories revolving around life choices using animals. We’re working with the Red River Zoo in order to have some animals around that children, parents, and students will have fun watching or interacting with.”

“Eurydice”, a contemporary piece by Sarah Ruhl and direct by Nora Flaherty, will be performed Wednesday, Feb. 24 through Saturday, Feb. 27 on the Gaede stage. “Eurydice” is the retelling of the classic myth of Orpheus told through the eyes of the heroine. It is a poetic piece with ingenious plot twists that takes a fresh look at a timeless love story.

The last main stage show this year is “Working” that is based on Studs Terkel’s book of interviews with American Workers. The show will be performed Wednesday, April 13 through Saturday, April 16 and directed by Craig A. Ellingson. “Working” is a musical that looks at many types of people that blend into the background – people that you might see as unimportant.

“This season it looks as if we have a serious overtone within the content and focus as far as the stories are concerned. They’re all powerful pieces of theatre in their own right. I think there are often times ways in which theatre or a show can spur a discussion. When theatre can enlighten and entertain at the same time, those are the moments I truly cherish. Moments when theatre, as well as other arts, can be used as a tool of social justice and change.”

Second stage shows this year include “Coming Out Stories” on Oct. 20 which revolves around MSUM theatre students from SPECTRUM being able to tell their stories, “Works in Progress” on Dec. 8, and “An Evening of Dance” on May 3. Both “Works in Progress” and “An Evening of Dance” are dance shows featuring the works of student choreographers and dancers. Some pieces in “Works in Progress” will be put in the spring dance show and it serves as a moment for students to put their works before public eyes. Both shows feature various types of dance including hip hop, jazz, contemporary and musical theatre.

For those interested in being a cast member for the shows being put on this year, auditions for “Really Really” and “Stories of Anasi” have already passed, but auditions will be held later in the semester for “Eurydice” and “Working.” For more information, contact Craig Ellingson ( or find the open Facebook group for the theatre student organization, Blackfriars, that posts about auditions and news about events happening throughout the department.

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