New semester opens new season for Parkland theatre

Peter Floess

Staff Writer   

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus Parkland Theater students rest backstage on Saturday, Jan. 16 2015. Cast members include Yael Bartov, David Dillman, Kenzie Dodds, Jasmine Elam, Ashton Goodly, Daniel Howie, Jace Jamison, Cedric Jones, Erin Kaufman, Hannah Longest, Jelinda Smith and Andrew Sullender.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus
Parkland Theater students rest backstage on Saturday, Jan. 16 2015. Cast members include Yael Bartov, David Dillman, Kenzie Dodds, Jasmine Elam, Ashton Goodly, Daniel Howie, Jace Jamison, Cedric Jones, Erin Kaufman, Hannah Longest, Jelinda Smith and Andrew Sullender.

The spring 2016 season of the Parkland Theatre Arts Program opened on Friday, Jan. 15, with the 25th Annual Parkland Theatre Student Production.

The program put on four one-act plays to kick off the new year.

The first of the four of one-act plays was “No Signal.” The play, which was written by Chad Myler and directed by Kenzie Dodds is a humorous discussion of communication between a man named Evens, played by David Dillman, who does not believe in using a smart phone and a women, named Grace played by Dodds, who is obsessed with one.

The second was “Penumbra.” The play, which was written and directed by Chell Tyler, was a Gothic play about a man named Alexander, played by Daniel Howie, who does not want to admit that he killed his girlfriend, played by Erin Kaufman.

The third play was a humorous murder mystery called “Forget and Not Forgive,” written and directed by Gennie Applebee. A detective named Ben played by David Dillman investigates the murder of a lab assistant of the chemist Eric Jepsen, played by Cedric Jones, lab assistant, by someone in the Jepson’s family.

The final play was “On the Corner of Bodhisattva and Shangri-La,” written by Warren Gaver and directed by Jace Jamison. The play imagines the Jewish-Christian God played by Jasimine Elan having a humorous discussion with Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine, played by Ashton Goodly and the Greek God, Zeus, played by Jamison. The discussion covers how humans relate to God.

“[The production] was a great experience for the student playwrights,” said Joi Hoffsomer, the artistic director for Parkland College Theatre. “It is a rare thing for a young writer to see his or her play produced and to watch it with an audience. It was also a learning experience for all of the other students involved as directors, actors, designers and crew. It was a way to learn about the process without faculty and staff taking the lead every step of the way.”

According to Department Chair of Fine and Applied Arts Julie Weishar, Chad Myler of “No Signal” and Warren Gaver of “On the Corner of Bodhisattva and Shangri-La” won awards at a playwriting festival hosted by Oakton Community College in Cook County.

This spring, Parkland Theatre Arts Program is putting on one play and one musical. From Feb. 18 to Feb. 28, Parkland Theatre is showing “The Curate Shakespeare: As You Like It” by Don Nigro.

“[The play is] adapted for seven actors,” said Dallas Street, marketing coordinator. “Lots of costume and character changes with this one. This will be presented in our black box theatre the Second Stage.  Many key scenes from the original are performed intact while the seven desperate players strive to cover all the parts and make some magic with the great playwright’s work. Touching and very funny, this is a true tribute to the core theme [of the play].”

The Parkland College version of “The Curate Shakespeare: As You Like It” is directed by Kate Riley. Opening night on Feb.18, according to Street, is half-price admission, meaning Parkland students, faculty members, or staff can get their tickets for just $6.50.

Parkland theatre’s musical is “Fiddler on the Roof” and will be presented from April 14 to May 1.

“[It is] set in the little village of Anatevka,” said Street, describing the plot of the musical. “The story centers on Tevye, a poor dairyman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, Tevye tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and the growing anti-Semitism of czarist Russia.”

Street feels like the story of “Fiddler on the Roof” has the universal theme of grappling with tradition that makes it popular with almost audience. The Parkland performance is directed by Stephen Fiol.

Opening night on April 14 is, according to Street, “‘pay what you can night,’ where the audience sets the ticket price…” There will also be a half-price ticket night on April 28.

Hoffsommer says the preparations for this season’s productions have been in the works since last spring; it requires a lot of work to gather the staff, create the stage builds, and so on. She is excited to see the theatre’s hard work pay off.

“I look forward to seeing each show on opening,” said Hoffsommer. “I love the experience of sitting there with the audience seeing it for the first time. It is exciting every time.”