UW-River Falls Students Craft, Present Improv Play

April 8, 2011—For the first time in ten years, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will present an all-cast created production.

The play, “Art: What is that Meaning of That?!,” is directed by Ken Stofferahn, professor of communication studies and theatre arts, with special guest artist Joshua Will. This production runs April 12-17 with all performances at 7:30 p.m. in the Blanche Davis Theatre in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building on campus.

“Art: What is that Meaning of That?!” is a completely new work created from the improvisation by the cast of UWRF students. The play focuses on the importance and need for the arts in everyday life.

The production examines arts and the ways people view them in a serious and comical way throughout their daily lives.

"This production challenges, in a very comedic and lighthearted manner, the way that we view art and its importance in our lives both on a societal and individual level,” says student Brittany Oberstadt.

Throughout the development, the cast had the opportunity to be involved in writing a majority of the script, and they took part in a large portion of the decision-making process and creation of costumes and props.

“The process of creating this show has been unique, in the fact that it was completely created by the cast. We all had a hand in the writing of the show, and that's why it's so special to the cast, because it is our thoughts and ideas,” says student Karen Biedermann.

This type of production allows students to stretch their creativity. The cast is not just reading lines - they are creating them. This allows them to take an already prevalent topic or an idea and figure out what they can do with it.

“We felt it was time for students to experience this productions process again, and knew that we finally had a topic that would fit well for this type of production,” says Stofferahn.

Not only does this show explore the importance of art within daily life, but it also looks at why it is an integral part of a student’s education.

“I'm graduating this May, so this will be my last main stage show at UWRF. This was the perfect last show; the subject matter is something that is very important to me, and through the process, I have grown an even greater appreciation and understanding of the arts,” says Biedermann.

Putting on this type of production brings the cast together in a different way. Instead of just meeting for practices and performances, cast members were collaborating well in advance prior to any other phase.

Biedermann adds, “The cast has grown super close, and as an ensemble we work together famously. This show has a real heart to it, and I hope everyone that sees it will see that as well!”

Having a group of diverse students with a variety of knowledge of art and a surplus of previous theater knowledge makes this particular production unique and gives it extra pizzazz.

“It’s a great play to attend. It’s packed with comedy, but still has the necessary serious undertones. It allows the audience to reexamine their relationship with art, and also have time for a good laugh,” notes Stofferahn.

The production’s cast includes Karen Biedermann, senior theatre arts major from White Bear Lake, Minn.; Olivia Main, sophomore theatre arts major from Webster; Maddie Weber, senior theatre arts major from Edgerton; Tori Ruckle, junior social work major from Woodbury, Minn.; Brittany Oberstadt, sophomore communication studies major from Inver Grove Heights, Minn.; Maggie Myre, senior elementary education major from Marine on St. Croix, Minn.; Darrell Davey, junior communication studies major from Cloquet, Minn.; Kyle Szarzynski, senior elementary education major from Eden Prairie, Minn.; Dan Tuchtenhagen, senior horticulture major from River Falls; A.J. Swanson, freshmen theatre arts major from Lake Elmo, Minn.; Taylor Evans, junior broad field social studies major from Hanover, Minn.; Matt Mobley, senior theatre arts major from Woodbury, Minn.; Abbie Bennett, junior theatre arts major from Duluth, Minn.; and  Marc Berg, senior theatre arts major from Rosemount, Minn.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students. A student discount rate of two tickets for $5 will apply for performances held April 12-13.

For tickets and more information, call the University Box Office at 715-425-3114.

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