Hackbarth, Fergen to perform in BVU's "Woman Wonder"

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Buena Vista University (BVU) Theatre's production of "Woman Wonder" has been selected to be performed at the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) 50 in Des Moines. BVU is the only university in Iowa to be invited to compete at the coveted competition.

Cole Hackbarth, a junior English and theatre double major from Spirit Lake and Ciera Fergen, a junior theatre major from Spirit Lake have roles in the production.

The Buena Vista University cast will perform the play on Jan. 25 at the Hoyt Sherman Place Theater in front of spectators and KCACTF representatives, who will evaluate every aspect of the production, including set-up, take down, and overall production and performance. The play was initially performed on BVU's campus in Storm Lake in November, where KCACTF representatives were also present.

"It is a tremendous honor to be invited to the KCACTF," said Dr. Bethany Larson, professor of theatre at BVU. "Theatre takes a lot of work, so it's not worth the effort if you're not doing it well. That is why we strive for excellence all the time. This opportunity is affirmation that our theatre department is getting it right and that our students, many of whom are not even theatre majors, can achieve great things through the program."

The production was just one of seven nominated from the KCACTF Region 5, which includes all levels of college theatres in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The play is in competition with the other regional shows and the other seven national regions for the KCACTF top honors, which will be handed out this spring. This is the first time a BVU Theatre production has ever been selected for the honor. The last time the department came close to earning a spot at the regional KCACTF was back in 2006.

"It's a privilege to be put up against much larger schools who have access to more resources than we do," said David Walker, assistant professor of theatre and director of theatre productions at BVU. "We are very efficient with what we have and it's a pleasure to see our department and our students reap the benefits of hard work and dedication."

"Woman Wonder" explores what it is to be a woman in today's world. Through stories ranging from the beautiful to the tragic, the play affirms the resiliency of women. Larson directs the production, while Walker designs lights and scenery.

"We purposefully choose to do shows that matter and that we think will advance the appreciation of theatre," Larson said.

Since the Hoyt Sherman Place Theater is much larger than what the cast is used to performing in, they are rehearsing in Schaller Memorial Chapel on BVU's campus to prepare specifically for voice projection and reach. The crew is also adapting the set, lighting and projections for the venue.

"This experience has been a steep learning curve for our team," said Walker. "I've traveled across the nation and worked on shows in a variety of different settings, but this opportunity in particular is a fun challenge that is stretching us in ways we haven't been tasked before."

In addition to being invited to perform at the KCACTF, the "Woman Wonder" script – written by seven BVU professors – has been nominated for the prestigious David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award.

The award – which is presented in an effort to promote new plays while honoring the memory of David Mark Cohen, professor of playwriting at the University of Texas-Austin – is intended to provide incentive to college theatre departments to foster the development of playwrights through the public presentations of unpublished full-length plays or a collection of shorter works that have not received a professional production.

"We are grateful for the depth of response we've received," said Larson, who is one of the authors of "Woman Wonder." "Productions need to make a difference in the lives of others, and this play in particular is very timely in today's society."

The remaining authors of "Woman Wonder" include: Jamii Claiborne, associate professor of digital media; Dr. Annamaria Formichella-Elsden, professor of English and dean of the School of Communication & Arts; Dr. Andrea Frantz, professor of digital media; Dr. Callé Friesen, assistant professor of education; Dr. Wind Goodfriend, professor of experimental psychology and assistant dean of graduate studies; and Miranda Pollock, assistant professor of graphic design.Those interested in attending the performance can register for single day access to the KCACTF at kcactf5.org/registration. Registrants can then obtain tickets for the Jan. 25 performance via the Eventbrite app. For questions, please contact Larson at 712.749.2129 or email larsonb@bvu.edu.

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