These Shining Lives brings historical tragedy to life

Chronicling the heartbreaking true story of Catherine Donohue, one of the “Radium Girls” of the 1920s and 1930s, These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich is running March 6, 7, 8, 13 and 14 as Whitworth Theatre’s spring production. These Shining Lives, directed by guest director Susan Hardie, was performed by a small cast consisting of sophomore Alanna Hamilton as Catherine Donohue, junior Molly Daniels, junior Becca Seideman and sophomore Hayley O’Brien as the Catherine’s coworkers, sophomore Weston Whitener as Tom Donohue, Catherine’s husband, and senior Bryan Peterson as Mr. Reed, Catherine’s boss. This cast of six is the smallest for a Mainstage production in a long time, Hamilton said.

[Having a small cast] really encouraged us to get to know each other. The girls especially have to have a really bantery dynamic like they’re just talking, and they have to portray that they’ve been working together for nine years,” Hamilton said. This organic relationship between characters was difficult to achieve at first, Hamilton said, but was convincing throughout the play.

Hamilton, a theater and business double major, started acting in the second grade, and has had several roles in Whitworth Theatre productions during her time as a student here. Last year, she played Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, and for The Drowsy Chaperone last fall, she was a member of the ensemble. However, playing a real historical figure such as Catherine Donohue was a new experience for Hamilton.

“Because she was real, it kind of raises the stakes that you get [the performance] right, that you perform and bring her honor and respect her,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton perfected her performance as Donohue through character analysis and digging into Donohue’s background, with the assistance of guest director Susan Hardie. Hardie often works with the Spokane Civic Theatre, and won a Kaleidoscope award for directing Turn of the Screw in 2011.

Hardie previously directed All My Sons at Whitworth in 2012. By using improv exercises to help the cast learn more about their characters, Hardie proved to be a different style of director than Hamilton and other cast members had experienced before.

“She was very intimate, like a one-on-one style of director. She always really stressed knowing the meaning of the words,” Hamilton said.

The play’s script is very poetic, featuring several monologues by Hamilton and the other cast members. It also has moments of political and personal tension, which add drama and suspense to the performance.

“I really like my ending monologue because even though it’s a sad ending, [the monologue] gives a lot of hope and shines a light,” Hamilton said.

Freshman political science major Anna Burt also enjoyed Hamilton’s ending monologue about time.

“It was really good,” Burt said. Although Burt had not attended a Whitworth Theatre production in the past, she enjoyed These Shining Lives and used words such as “phenomenal” and “outstanding” to describe it.

The Whitworth Theatre production of These Shining Lives continues March 13 and 14 at 7:30 pm in Cowles Auditorium Mainstage.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Artist Spotlight: Acting major cherishes spiritual joy

Madeleine L’Engle, author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” once said that there is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred. Junior theater major Rebecca Seideman exemplifies that ideal. She tries to serve God in all things that she does, especially within her major. She is inspired by the idea of ministry through theater.

“I want to represent God in a good way in the professional acting community,” Seideman said.

Seideman has been involved in theater for seven years. She became interested in theater when she moved to a new state and became enrolled in a huge high school. Her mother was in charge of picking her classes and put her in beginning drama.

“I was absolutely terrified,” Seideman said.

Since then theater has been an integral part of her life. Seideman recently experienced a death in her family and theater helped her to process the tragedy and keep going.

“When you think about how fragile life can be, suddenly nothing else matters but to pursue passion,” Seideman said.

Seideman likes that theater brings together a whole group of people that would otherwise never be in the same room with each other. Theater has given her a new way to look at people and has shown her the importance of empathy—for characters and for people.

“I wish that I had a way to concisely describe how important theater is to me,” Seideman said.

She has lost count of how many shows she has been in, but her involvement with theater goes further than acting.

She is involved in many of senior projects, has participated in the Broadway Unbound dance showcase every year she’s attended Whitworth and had the opportunity to collaborate with directors and designers in New York. She is the stage carpenter, is in the mainstage production, and is co-leading and starring in Cool Whip this spring. She sometimes has rehearsal for upwards of five hours a day.

“I have to keep my sanity and remember what’s important,” Seideman said.

Something else that is very important to Seideman is her involvement with the homeless.

Last summer, Seideman moved to the Tenderloin District in San Francisco, which houses a large homeless population. She said that although it’s a disadvantaged neighborhood, most of the sadness and depravity is in the houses, not on the streets. She worked with the organization City Impact and ran a rescue mission in the district. They coordinated food and services, prayed with people and distributed much-needed items such as clothes.

Junior Rebecca Seideman hopes to use theater to help disadvantaged youth.   Jeanette Vazquez | Photographer

Seideman has many homeless friends and says that the homeless population is misunderstood. She said that they are suffering from a “spiritual starvation.”

“The real problem is addiction and lack of spiritual support,” Seideman said.

Seideman has thought about completely engrossing herself into the homeless population, but has decided that she can better serve them through art.

“There’s something inherently spiritual about art,” Seideman said.

Seideman finds her inspiration in people and the quirky things they do. She has a rule that she is aware when she is anywhere. She watches people to inspire characters.

This summer, Seideman plans to temporarily move to San Francisco to be trained and certified in InterPlay, a technique using stories, movement and voice to unlock wisdom. After her certification, she would like to use that technique to help the disadvantaged youth and homeless population in San Francisco, using InterPlay as a sort of therapy.

After she graduates, she plans to marry her fiancé, whom she met while in San Francisco, and possibly moving to New York to become an Equity actor.

Seideman’s advice to other artists and people is to live for right now, accept help, not be afraid, and most importantly: to laugh.

“Laugh. Just laugh at everything. It makes life more bearable,” Seideman said.

Seideman will perform in the mainstage production, “These Shining Lives,”  opening March 6 in Cowles Auditorium.

 

Emily Goodell

Staff Writer

Oakland’s films return to Whitworth screens

Growing up, Professor Leonard Oakland was not allowed to watch movies because of his family’s fundamentalist Christian worldview. Throughout high school and college, he gave up going to films because of these beliefs. “[Going to movies] was part of the code of forbidden conduct: don’t smoke, drink, dance, gamble or go to movies,” Oakland said, about his college experience.

However, Oakland gradually began to lose faith that those rules were relevant for Christians to follow and started going to the movies as a grad student at UC Berkeley. He attended movies at least three times a week and became especially interested in foreign, independent and classic films, Oakland said.

“The great foreign films of the late 1950s and the early 1960s were emerging, and we were seeing them in Berkeley or in other major cities,” Oakland said.

When Oakland came to Whitworth in 1966, the 4-1-4 schedule that Whitworth uses with two semesters and Jan Term in the middle, was in an “experimental” stage, Oakland said. Professors were not allowed to teach any requirements for the first Jan Term, so Oakland created a class called “The Art Film as Literature,” which combined his love of movies with his discipline, literature.

Oakland still teaches film classes in Jan term, and occasionally offers an evening class on the subject. His love of film led him to some involvement in filmmaking, such as his performance as “Jeopardy Contestant #3” in the movie “White Men Can’t Jump.” He also assisted with the writing of “Bull Durham,” a successful baseball movie directed by Oakland’s friend Ron Shelton.

Seven years ago, when Oakland’s teaching contract went from 100 percent to 50 percent, he attended a celebration acknowledging his years at Whitworth.

“I was asked over some months before that, ‘What kind of legacy would I like to leave behind me at Whitworth?’” Oakland said.

After discussing several options of things Oakland cared passionately about with a committee, they eventually settled on film. After raising some funds, Oakland and Whitworth decided that the money could be used for an annual film festival, and the Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival was born.

The festival consists of one American independent film, one documentary and one foreign film, corresponding to three film classes he created, and then three more well-known or older films later in the evening.

A committee of several people, including Oakland, meet before the school year and decide on worthy films to show and determine whether or not each year’s festival has a theme.

“This year we have the theme of forgiveness that runs through our movies,” Oakland said.

The theme is centered around the second movie in the festival, a documentary titled “Forgiveness,” which played on Feb. 21. The filmmaker, Woodrow Wilson Scholar Helen Whitney, was on campus for several days, where she spoke in various classes and ran a Q&A session after the film.

“Forgiveness” brings up tough question such as, “When is it right to forgive?” The film is not directed from a Christian perspective, but covers how religion and personal belief affect in what capacity one can forgive.

“The word ‘forgiveness’ evokes mystery and power…[it] goes way beyond the culture you grew up in, or the religion that shaped you,” Whitney said during the after-film Q&A session. Whitney described the film as “searingly personal” to make, as it follows the stories of many people who have either been wronged or have committed wrongs.

Each person interviewed for the documentary had a different definition of forgiveness and atonement, which begged audience members to analyze their personal definitions of these words.

“It made me think about my own view [of forgiveness]. It was good to see examples of where other people come from,” junior Lindsey Page said, in response to viewing the film.

The first film shown in the festival was “Wildlike,” a film about being reconciled with your past done in partnership with the Spokane International Film Festival. The next film, showing on March 7, is “Calvary,” a powerful Irish film.

Each of these movies, along with the 10 p.m. showings of familiar classics “Unforgiven” and “Princess Bride,” deal with themes of forgiveness in their own way, and provide a sense of unity for the festival.

One of Oakland’s goals for the festival is to expose students to films they might not otherwise have seen, and promote lesser-known films.

“These are powerful film experiences and they expand our students’ filmgoing experience beyond the ordinary Hollywood films,” Oakland said.

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Cool Whip steals the show

There is only one place on campus where you can experience a rap battle, Nicolas Cage at a cash register, and a lovesick frying pan all at the same time–a Cool Whip improv show. On Friday, Oct. 30, Cool Whip performed their first show of the year on Stage II of Cowles Auditorium. Cool Whip usually performs one or two shows a month, depending on the troupe members’ schedules.

Ten members strong this year, the troupe is co-directed by juniors Nate Strain and Rebecca Seideman. Shows typically consist of a combination of improv games such as Return Desk, Les Jeux and Four Square, where the players come up with comical scenes and interact with each other and the audience on the spot.

Sophomore Alyson King joined Cool Whip last year after participating in her high school’s improv troupe for the last four years. Last year, King was the only freshman on the troupe after tryouts.

“[In tryouts] there’s a current member who judges your performances with a group of other people trying out,” King said. “You play a game like Freeze, and the judge decides if you make it based on how you play the game and interact with other people.”

In Freeze, two players start a scene and must quickly develop it using key basics of improv, such as character, relationship and location. Then, at some point in the scene, someone in the audience yells, “Freeze!” The person who yelled must take the place of one of the frozen characters, and begin an entirely new scene inspired by the replaced player’s final pose, King said.

Cool Whip practice consists of playing “games [the troupe] hasn’t played in a while,” learning new ones or doing workshops that focus on skills such as pantomiming, King said. Cool Whip members perform games they often practice, but due to the nature of improv and the creativity of the players, the results are different each time.

Besides just being entertaining, improv can also be beneficial and transformative for the players. In middle school, King was shy and had difficulty talking to people.

“As soon as I got into improv, it boosted my confidence, and now I’m able to be in front of people and hold conversations,” King said.

The audience was very involved in the show, offering suggestions as to what the troupe would be acting out. Some attendees had been to many shows, and some, like junior Tori Grace, were seeing Cool Whip perform for the first time.

“I really liked it,” Grace said. “My favorite part was [senior Seth Flanders] when he was trying to act out the Kim Kardashian story–that was hilarious.”

In the game Les Jeux, King told a story involving Timbuktu, Kim Kardashian and explosions. Afterwards, Flanders acted out the same story without using words. Finally, a third Cool Whip member attempted to re-tell the original story based on Flander’s humorous actions.

For the Cool Whip members, performing each show is a unique experience, with a new audience and new possibilities

“It’s a ton of fun,” said junior Nate Strain, Cool Whip co-director. “We just have a passion for [improv] that is infinite.”

 

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer

Halloween Cult Classic Plays at the Garland

Confetti, toast and unruly commentary flew through Garland Theater Saturday night as many adventurous individuals participated in celebrating a cult classic for those striving to be different. The midnight movie premiere of the Rocky Horror Picture Show began with a line wrapping around and down the block of Garland Avenue. Numerous people participated by dressing up as their favorite Rocky Horror characters, including Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Magenta, Janet Weis, Columbia and Eddie. The movie also included a reenactment by Shadow Cast; a local, small scale acting company.

For those that have not lost their “Rocky Horror virginity,” the movie is essentially a rated R musical comedy horror containing adult language, brief nudity, and insinuated sex scenes.

“It’s not about anything, just nonsense. It’s just about getting involved,” Ryan Christiansen, a Garland Theater employee, said, as he tried explaining to confused audience members what the show was about. He stressed that this event is based off of a sense of community and getting involved while also expressing eccentrism.

“I promise to be different. I promise to be unique. I promise not to repeat things other people tell me to say,” said every member in the crowd of about 500, repeating the opening pledge led by Jason Laws, the head coordinator of Shadow Cast. After this proclamation, the room fired into a frenzy of excitement and the show began.

During the whole production, the audience participated by yelling lines of the movie, making bawdy jokes and jumping into the aisle to dance and sing along.

Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released in 1975. The film was widely ignored until 1976 when it became notorious as a midnight movie and the audience began participating. Participation included yelling back at the screen, mocking the characters and throwing designated props during specific times during the movie (rice, toast, playing cards, toilet paper, condoms and sprays of water from squirt guns).

Today the film is internationally known and is one of the most profitable midnight movies. In 2005 the Rocky Horror Picture Show was selected for film preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

For those who are interested in participating in the Rocky Horror experience, click here to learn some background information, the participation rules, prop list and line cues.

 

Alyssa Saari

Staff Writer

Audience roars at main stage musical

“The Drowsy Chaperone,” Whitworth Theatre’s fall production, is a comedy. Or a musical. Or both. As the tagline says, it is a “musical inside a comedy.” Directed by Brooke Kiener, the play focuses on a man who is listening to old musical records in his apartment. The man, played by senior Mitch Heid, becomes the guide and interrupter of the musical that is playing on his old record.

Senior Sarah Nadreau as the Drowsy Chaperone. Janik Emmendorfer | Photographer

The musical unfolds before the audience, and it constantly pokes fun at stereotypical musicals from the 1920s. It features stereotypical characters such as the gangsters who deal primarily in puns, drunken damsels and slightly racist women seducers.

The musical within the play, aptly titled “The Drowsy Chaperone,” follows a young couple on the verge of getting married, although Janet Van de Graaff, played by senior Lise Hafso, is having second thoughts between her successful career on the stage and the marriage which would cause her to dismiss her career. There are various capers and goofiness related to the marriage.

The main piece to the musical, believe it or not, were the musical pieces that were performed throughout the night. The live pit band, featuring 11 current or former Whitworth students and led by Scott Miller, played various instruments and songs to keep up with the actors and actresses on stage.

A total of 12 songs were performed during the play; each one had choreography, lyrics and set pieces that were added and subtracted throughout. The memorization of the entire production alone is impressive.

The cast, featuring 17 students, had a steady grasp on the play as far as the audience could tell, as well as the crew who ran the lights, the sets, the costumes and all of the many moving parts of this production.

Perhaps the crowd favorite from the night was Aldolpho, the womanizing Spanish man who seduces the chaperone under the pretense of her being the bride. Played by sophomore Tommy Bochi, the accent, dim-wittedness and clumsy antics kept the crowd entertained in all the scenes where Aldolpho is present.

However, the sheer talent of all the characters was pretty staggering.

“The play was really good,” junior Jansen Leggett said. “Even though my high school did it was still really fun to watch.”

The play was fun and was looking for laughs. However, at the very end of the play, it even is able to pull on the audience’s heartstrings a little bit. The man who is leading the audience through the musical suddenly reveals why he has such an affinity for a cheesy musical from 1928. This point is hit home surprisingly well, despite the general goofiness of the play.

The Whitworth theater department will also have several more productions coming up throughout this year. If you want to get involved or find more information, the theater department is located in Cowles Auditorium or more information can be found on Whitworth’s website.

“It is really great that we don’t need to travel very far to see great productions,” junior Savanna Jenkins said. “We don’t have to go to Broadway or anything like that to have fun.”

Sophomore Weston Whitener in his role as Feldzieg

“The Drowsy Chaperone” will continue to run on campus until Saturday, Oct. 18.

Jacob Millay

Staff Writer

Artist Spotlight: Nate Strain imagines more

Name: Nate StrainYear: Junior Major: Physics/Theater

Junior Nate Strain couldn’t pick just one passion to follow, so he decided to major in physics and theater. As a child, he took theater classes one summer and realized his love for performing. He enjoys the interactive aspect of performing and receiving feedback from the audience.

“I like making people feel. Watching a performance can help people find something new about life and themselves. It can be escape for them, but also introspective,” Strain said.

Strain explained how he can apply what he learns in physics classes to theater and vice versa. Theater classes have encouraged him to think outside of the box for problem solving in physics, as physics classes have helped him think methodically when developing characters. Physics classes have also helped him with adapting to performance spaces and knowing how to project his voice effectively, he said.

Strain plans to apply for engineering graduate programs, as well as fine arts master’s programs. Ideally, he’d like to pursue a career that combines both passions. He is interested in theatrically enthused engineering, stunt designs for movies, and designing performance spaces. He’s looking into an internship with Walt Disney’s Imagineering program, he said.

Strain believes theater can often be a way of conveying important messages to audiences. This year, he plays the character George, the main character’s best man, in Whitworth’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“If you want to play a character truthfully and honestly, you can’t judge the character. You give a piece of yourself to the character, the character gives something back, and you give that to the audience,” Strain said.

In the spring main stage production his freshman year, the “Laramie Project,” Strain played nine characters with very different personalities, from an Eastern European man with an accent to a troubled, young gay man.

“With ‘The Laramie Project,’ it spoke to a lot of people and they weren’t expecting it,” he said.

Understanding characters has allowed him to appreciate all different types of people and be less judgmental, Strain said, adding that he can look at people more honestly and sympathize. He also appreciate all genres of plays.

“There is a co-existent relationship between you and the audience that is directly proportional. The energy you give the audience is the energy you get back. The more excited you are, the more excited they are to see you,” Strain said.

Strain said he tries not to let the size of an audience determine the quality of his performance, but always loves seeing a big crowd when the curtains open.

When Strain traveled to London, he saw fifteen plays during his stay and the overall experience reinvigorated his passion for performance, he said. After watching the performance of the Shakespearean tragedy “Coriolanius,” the actors embodied something he would want to become if he were to pursue acting after Whitworth. Actors Kevin Spacey, Daniel Day Lewis and Tom Hiddleston also serve as inspirations for him.

Though Strain enjoys reading plays and dissecting characters, he also holds a great appreciation for light and sound design. Lighting sets the mood for a lot of the performance and he appreciates the small factors of a performance that often go unnoticed, he said.

In theater, backstage technicians and actors can hold stigmas toward each other because of a lack of appreciation for each other’s craft.

“I like how liberal arts learning applies in the art department,” Strain said. “Actors are forced to take classes on lighting and sound and light and sound technicians take acting classes. We gain an appreciation for each other and what we do.”

Juniors Daniel Amando (l.) and Nate Strain (r.) in their roles as Robert and George in the Drowsy Chaperone.

Strain acknowledges the cohesive and friendly atmosphere that exists within Whitworth productions.

“Improv is definitely my biggest release for stress,” Strain said.

As director of the improv group Cool Whip, Strain says they’ve been trying to develop a collective mentality this year. He feels different about being the person to give rather than receive advice and appreciates how receptive the members have been.

On Oct. 22, Cool Whip will host a joint primetime in Arend and Warren. The first official Cool Whip performance will be on Oct. 30 on Stage II, a small space in Cowles Auditorium.

 

Rachelle Robley

Staff Writer

Cultural Event Review: Fiesta Spokane presents 'Monseñor: The Last Journey of Óscar Romero'

Hannah Walker, Graphic Artist  “My mission is for the oppressed,” said Óscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador in the film “Monseñor: The Last Journey of Óscar Romero.” During the 1970s, Romero declared his religious and humanitarian mission, the main focus of the movie, shown Thursday, Sept. 18 in Robinson Teaching Theatre.

Rafaela Acevedo-Field, assistant professor in the history department who also oversees the Latin American studies minor, introduced the film to about 40 attendees.

“It’s important that you understand some background history,” Acevedo-Field said before the film began, launching into an informational timeline of Salvadoran history to improve the audience’s understanding of the film’s cultural context.

Romero preached to raise the spirits of the poverty-stricken souls of El Salvador and form a union strong enough to overcome the dictating oligarchy in control. During the 1970s, El Salvador was considered a republic, but was instead ruled by a wealthy family-generated oligarchy that terrorized the poor and everyday people of El Salvador. The military and church also played a major role in the oppression of society. Government officials oppressed the people in almost every way possible: burning public buses, kidnapping and killing children, physical abuse, threats and even assassination of church officials, including Romero himself. “Romero is one of my heroes representing faith and discipline, and you’ll see why,” Acevedo-Field said. The film demonstrated her statement. Romero kept his faith regardless of the obstacles he and his followers faced. He and his growing flock of sheep gathered in worship despite the government’s oppression. Disregarding government reprimandation, Romero’s faithful followers supported his vision for peace until the end. “What do we do? Form together and together we’ll organize,” Romero said in the film, as he worked to instill the value of togetherness and faith in the hearts of the fearful citizens. He introduced a new concept known as liberation theology, which consisted of the idea that Christ is part of our everyday lives and circumstances out of our control. “The Kingdom of God is not in heaven, but here on Earth,” said one of Romero’s parish members in the film. The idea that God is present on Earth and within common people, motivated and carried the Salvadoran peasants forward to protest and fight for their rights as human beings. Romero led the people through his preaching and God’s word, building their faith and strength in order to march, congregate during mass, and eventually go to war. After recapping some important concepts of the cultural differences, Acevedo-Field held a Q-and-A session. “Why would the government allow these protests to go on as long as they did?” one student asked. Acevedo-Field responded, “The Catholic Church was very powerful and simply untouchable.” Other students contributed to the discussion, bringing up the idea that history repeats itself on a global level and regardless of race or religion, humanity is all one in the same. In life, everyone is bound to face common struggles; it’s who leads the way through the conflict who makes the difference. The film was shown as part of a community-wide program called Fiesta Spokane, designed to celebrate Hispanic culture. Fiesta Spokane will be sponsoring events throughout the month of September.   Alyssa Saari Staff Writer

Artist Spotlight: Kacey Cockerill takes to the stage

Janik Emmendorfer-4924 Name: Kacey Cockerill, director of the Frosh On Stage production of “Where the Wild Things Are”

Grade: Junior

Major: Theater

Whitworth is full of talented artists-from painters to musicians and everything in between. A prominent artist on campus this fall is junior Kacey Cockerill, theater lover and director of the Frosh On Stage production of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Frosh On Stage is a short, student-directed production that the Whitworth theater department puts on every year featuring an all-freshman cast.

Cockerill became involved in theater during high school, playing characters such as Miss Maudie from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and continued her involvement here at Whitworth in many different ways.

“I’ve been on the acting track and taken classes and have been part of costuming,” Cockerill said. “It’s mostly been the performance and costuming, but I’ve tried to learn stage tech and I’ve just started directing.”

Directing Frosh On Stage has been a completely new experience for Cockerill.

“Because of my attitude and love of the department, they asked me to direct,” Cockerill said.

As she was part of Frosh her freshman year, she was happy to take on the commitment even though directing is new to her.

“[As director] I gather the cast by holding auditions and organize what we do with the script,” Cockerill said.

Another part of her job is giving her interpretation of the story to the cast and crew in the way she envisions the audience will love best. As for whether she enjoys acting or directing more, Cockerill is unsure.

“I’ll decide when I’m done—both are equally fulfilling,” Cockerill said.

The most rewarding thing about theater is that it’s not just performing on stage, it’s getting a group of people together and creating something beautiful out of almost nothing, Cockerill said.

Cockerill has high aspirations for her theater career. After she graduates from Whitworth in 2016, she wants to move to a big city like New York or Los Angeles and work at a major theater. In the future, she wants to use her degree and experience to work on costuming for Disney or even be a Disney Princess herself.

Cockerill’s Frosh On Stage production of “Where the Wild Things Are” opens Oct. 5 in Stage Two at 4 p.m.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun and a good relief from homework so everyone should come,” Cockerill said.

 

Courtney Murphy

Staff Writer