This summer, Sod House — a theater company founded by Augsburg College Chair of Theater Arts Darcey Engen ’88 and her husband, Luverne Seifert ’83 — brought a production of “Hoopla Train (with Yard Master Yip and his Polkastra)” to 14 historic ballrooms in different Minnesota cities including Barrett, McGregor, Nisswa, and Sleepy Eye.
Engen and Seifert shared the stage with a troupe of performers to put on the production billed as “Lawrence Welk meets ‘Hee-Haw.’” The Sod House Theater project began in 2011 when Engen and Seifert collaborated to create the condensed version of Anton Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard” with Twin Cities colleagues including Sarah Myers, associate professor of theater at Augsburg.
This year the “Hoopla Train” has garnered the attention of media outlets across Minnesota, including the following organizations and stories:
The Star Tribune included Augsburg College’s production of “Peer Gynt,” which runs April 10 through 13 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, in its “Stage Spot” news column. The play marks the first time that the College has partnered with the University of Minnesota to deliver an innovative production that breaks rules and boundaries. Read more on the Star Tribune’s website.
A first-ever collaboration between the theater departments of Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota on a production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” received news coverage in MinnPost. The ground-breaking production will take theatergoers on a fantastic voyage that includes oversized birds and trolls, original music and simultaneous scenes, all while attendees and performers travel a quarter-mile portion of the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Read the full column on the MinnPost website.
Production is first-ever collaboration between Augsburg, University of Minnesota
A ground-breaking production of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt” will take theater goers on a fantastic voyage that includes oversized birds and trolls, original music and simultaneous scenes, all while attendees and performers travel a quarter-mile portion of the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
The play, a 1.5-hour production condensed from Robert Bly’s 3-hour script of 2008, represents a first-time collaboration between theater departments at Augsburg and the University of Minnesota. It’s also probably a first for site-specific theater of this scale for theatergoers in the Twin Cities. “Peer Gynt” will be performed seven times from April 10-13. Ticket Information > Continue reading
The spring production of Cabaret, a classic American musical set in 1930s Germany, has created a unique learning laboratory—true to the Theater Department’s mission—in which students are asking big questions and learning how to work as a team. In making connections between a time in history and present-day issues, the cast members are creating theater that will give them skills they can use in life and in their future careers.
Asking big questions develops critical thinking skills
Darcey Engen, associate professor and chair of the Theater Department, said the rehearsal process raised important questions for the cast members. “1930s Germany was a time of great wealth and great poverty, and the middle class was stressed,” Engen said. “We discussed the conditions, drawing similarities to what is now happening in our country.”
Rehearsals began shortly after the proposed Minnesota Constitutional amendment to define marriage was defeated and following the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. These events helped cast members relate current issues to the circumstances in 1930s Germany and the discrimination that centered on race, class, and sexuality. Continue reading
This summer, alumni Darcey Engen ’88 [left] and her husband, Luverne Siefert ’83, will bring a site-specific production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard to the Minnesota communities of Blue Earth, Kenyon, Little Falls, Taylors Falls, and Worthington.
Engen and Siefert will share the stage—actually historic Minnesota homes and the surrounding grounds—with four performers known for their work with Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater, Jungle Theater, and Theatre de la Jeune Leune. The production will also feature local actors and musicians in each community. Continue reading
The first mainstage production of the Augsburg theater season begins this week with The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, a play by Peter Weiss. Through their roles in the play and their participation in a growing U.S. protest movement, the Augsburg cast members have experienced the power and complexity of a peoples’ revolution.
Set in the historical Charenton Asylum, Marat/Sade is a “play within a play” performed by the Charenton inmates. The main story takes place on July 13, 1808, after the French Revolution; the play in the play, directed by the Marquis de Sade, takes place during the Revolution in 1793, culminating in the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat. Continue reading
Later this month, two Augsburg alumni and an all-star cast will debut a unique site-specific production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the Historic Lind House in New Ulm, Minn. The production also features high school and community actors from the Sleepy Eye/New Ulm area and includes live music from the Sleepy Eye Concertina Club.
This production focuses on the struggles of a family in the throes of losing their estate through foreclosure and was chosen to bring attention to the rash of farm foreclosures in the Southern Minnesota farming community. Although inherently tragic, this production will illuminate the comedic and eccentric nature of Chekhov’s rich characters. Continue reading
What would compel a college theatre director to present a play about a woman whose husband essentially abuses her?
“You do it because you shouldn’t,” says Darcey Engen, associate professor and director of Augsburg’s re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, which opens tonight and runs Feb. 5-14.
“The play has been problematic since it was written,” Engen says. “But it has helped the students think about their acting choices as political.”
The story is that if Petruchio can get Katherine to agree to marry him, Baptista (Katherine’s father) will give Petruchio part of his fortune. Katherine does not want to marry Petruchio, so he tries to “tame” her by isolating her from her family, starving her, and denying her sleep. Continue reading
The Augsburg College Theatre Arts Department will present it’s final MainStage production of the 2007-08 season, “Top Girls,” at 7 p.m. on April 11, 12, 17, 18, and 19, and 2 p.m. on April 13 and 20 in Tjornhom-Nelson Theater. Darcey Engen ’88 is directing the production.
“Top Girls,” by British playwright Caryl Churchill in 1982, explores
feminist themes and encourages a deeper look at socialist ideals. Marlene, “Top Girls” main character, is a businesswoman who has recently achieved a promotion within the employment agency where she works. Her sister, Joyce, is a working-class cleaning woman who
adopted Marlene’s child at birth and has raised her as her own. While the sisters are joined in caring for their daughter’s welfare, the two are quite different in their political and class views. Marlene is presented as an individualist who does whatever it takes to move ahead. She values power and success for herself at the expense of others. Her sister Joyce represents a more socialist-collective perspective that sees achievements of women happening only when all women and other oppressed groups are included. Continue reading