By Kimberly Talcott
SPEARFISH… The Black Hills State University Theatre Department opens its fall season with “Moonchildren,” a dramatic comedy from 1960s.
“Moonchildren” will be performed Oct. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. in the new Black Box Theatre, third floor of Woodburn Hall, on the BHSU campus. The show contains adult language. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $8 for senior citizens; $5 for BHSU faculty and staff; and free for BHSU students with a Buzz Card.
The play, written by Michael Weller, tells the story about the undergraduate college experience in the late 1960s. Weller wrote the script in 1962, which gives the audience an opportunity to get a feel for the frustrations students shared during that time.
Dr. Pam Wegner, professor of speech and theater at BHSU, and director of “Moonchildren,” said this historical play looks at students speaking up in the form of protest and comedy.
“Our actors find that a lot of the struggles students had in the past are present today as well, however what they see being different is the reason for frustration of the students in 1960s, especially the boys’, because their futures were up for grabs,” says Wegner.
Kyle Graves, graphic design and theatre major from Rapid City and one of the lead actors in the play, says the play is at the same time serious and light and cheery.
“My character, Mike, tries to make the people who live in the apartment with him happier, since everyone is a little sad with the war going on,” says Graves.
The play is set in the time before the U.S. established a lottery system for the draft, which meant that students had a student deferment, and the moment they were out of school they could be drafted to go to war in Vietnam.
“Another thing over students’ heads in 1960s was that almost no student could vote,” says Wegner. “Voting age in the 1960s was 21, which meant that a lot of students didn’t have a voice. The only voice they felt they had was to demonstrate on the streets.”
Wegner explains that students were protesting to address various questions about contemporary life. Protests were not only about war, but also about changing the curriculum in schools.
“These college students in the play really just want to fit in. Especially popular protests in 60s were ‘make love, not war.’ Protesting gave students an opportunity to join forces with like-minded students,” says Graves.
Graves can relate to the characters on many different levels, apart from just being a college student.
“I come from a military family so the wars in the past have influenced my time in school. Knowing how it is having someone close to you being deployed, I am able to connect to this play on a personal level as well,” adds Graves.
“Moonchildren” is one of the two shows in a year where a correspondent from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival comes to see the play and gives the student actors feedback. The play director and the correspondent will select two actors that will travel to Des Moines to compete at KCACTF and represent BHSU.
The cast of “Moonchildren” includes:
· Mike – Kyle Graves, graphic design and theatre major from Rapid City
· Ruth – Shonee Singer, communication and theatre major from Yorktown, Texas
· Cootie (Mel) – Michael Doorn, mass communication major from Mitchell
· Norman – Tyler Schone, English major from Sturgis
· Dick – Kyle Vanriel, mass communication major from Jamaica
· Kathy – Tarina Nye, elementary education major from Spearfish
· Bob Rettie (Job) – Simon Fiske, speech communication education major from Spearfish
· Shelly – Ashley Hahn, English and communication and theatre major from Summerset
· Francis (Ralph) – Kyla Christensen, human services major from Kaycee, Wyo.
· Mrs. Willis – Rachel Ridinger, BHSU alumni from Alzada, Mont.
· Lucille (Lucky) – Molly Howard, elementary education major from Sioux Falls
· Bream – Ariel Pozorski, English education major from Rapid City
· Effing – Samantha O’Neal, graphic design communication major from Ord, Neb.
· Aunt Mary (Murray) – Jacqueline Stroup, psychology and human services major from Huron
· Cootie’s Father – Nathaniel Scott, exploratory studies major from Custer
BHSU Theatre will continue its season with a play “Non-Player Character” by Walt McGough, coming to stage in November. More information about the upcoming plays is available at www.BHSU.edu/theatre