Look Again: The Normandale Play Project, 2019, NORMANDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Who is here?
Welcome! At college, students explore their identity, find their community, and build their capacity as individuals. We’ve worked with dozens of students, faculty, and staff, across departments, at the University of St. Thomas, Macalaster College, and Normandale Community College—both for curricular integration and extra-curricular projects. Through our unique creative process, we’ve engaged with resilient, wildly-diverse, and amazingly resourceful young people, faculty, and administrators who have wonderful stories to tell.
If you are a faculty member and would like to work with Wonderlust, please email us!
If you are a student and are interested in an internship, we encourage you to reach out!
University of St. Thomas has had us in residence three times, including:
- Creative partnership gathering stories and perspectives from nearly 200 students from nine classes across multiple departments to inform our modern-day adapation of Six Characters in Search of an Author, which was set on a reality TV show. Their smart, intelligent input and feedback pushed our ideas further to include social media, as well as their personal stories, in our new version. Several students helped with the show directly – on stage, on camera, and doing behind the scenes work.
- A new show created and performed by students, exploring the “Common Good” through interviews, story circles, and workshops culminating in a performance in the Anderson Recreation Center starring eight students and company member Adam Whisner.
- Creative and research partnership with the College of Arts and Science and the Center for Well-Being exploring storytelling and ritual as pathways to communal healing. Students did research on campus and off, providing background and serving as test audiences for Wonderlust’s development of Contact Tracing, a zoom-based ritual for naming and grieving ambiguous loss performed in Summer 2021.
Normandale Community College commissioned Wonderlust to spend one semester writing a new play based on the stories of students, faculty and staff at Normandale, and the next semester producing that play featuring a cast of students, faculty, and even the College President.
Macalester College students studying community-driven art participated in our creative workshops working collaboratively with members of the incarceration-impacted community to help finalize our script of the Incarceration Play Project.
Eden Prairie Schools invited us to collaborate with students, faculty and staff to make and perform a play about Eden Prairie Schools at the district-wide kickoff event. Company members Adam and Megan had awesome co-stars in these amazing students. Learn more here.
Contact us if you’d like to bring our unique process to your campus.
Art We’ve Made
Look Again: The Normandale Play Project
Wonderlust worked with Normandale Community College to create a new play about the challenges, victories, struggles, and successes of the amazing Normandale Community College community.
More than 40% of the people who seek higher education are attending community college. Compared to four-year and other institutions, community colleges educate significantly more student who are also immigrants, the first generation in their family to attend college, and people of color. The Normandale Community College student population is 38% people of color. Overall, community colleges include advanced high school students, adult learners, workers seeking retraining, and so much more.
The theater department at Normandale is uniquely successful within this environment, and we’re honored that we created a show together in their 2018-2019 season.
Deeqa is homesick. Cameron is heartsick. Deshun insists that he isn’t afraid, and Anna wants to prove that she has a brain. Can they conquer the witch they’ll face in the magical world inside Normandale? Based on true stories from members of the Normandale community, and told as an epic adventure with music, movement, and theatre magic – Look Again: The Normandale Play Project follows Deeqa and her friends on a challenging journey toward their future.
Enjoy these amazing songs composed and written by Becky Dale from lyrics and melodies by Alan Berks, students Kevin Bowles, Moemin Ebrahim, Alyssa Ehlen, Bennet Klingman, Shelby Lengyel, Garrett Loper, Ann Shields, and Bill Stevens.
1. At the end of Act I, our heroes look “behind the curtain,” past the stereotypes and myths that other people want to impose on them.
2. In the middle of Act II, during a school blackout, students and faculties face their inner fears and deepest wishes.
Six Characters in Search of An Author
As The Maze, a Big Brother-type “reality” television show, gets ready for their big live finale, the house is invaded by a mysterious, uninvited family of characters who insist that they aren’t people at all but actual characters sprung to life from the imagination of an author. In front of the cameras and the live audience, the cast and crew wrestle with what is really real vs. what is true and how to transform their life stories into art and entertainment. Twin Cities playwright and director Alan Berks brings this landmark of modern theatre into the 21st century world of social media, celebrity, and unscripted TV.
A little backstory…
Six Characters in Search of an Author is actually a 94-year play. Original audiences yelled, “Madhouse!” from their seats. Pirandello created the idea of “play within a play” to explore themes around truth and reality. It blew minds away.
Fast forward a century. Alan Berks & Co. first adapted the script in 2013. Speaking to modern ways our reality is shaped by media and technology, our concept revolved around a reality TV show, The Maze.
In 2015, Wonderlust conducted a fall residency at the University of St. Thomas, facilitated by Professor Amy Muse. We worked with nearly 200 students from nine classes. Their smart, intelligent input and feedback pushed our ideas further to include social media, as well as their personal stories, in our new version. Several students helped with the show directly – on stage, on camera, and doing behind the scenes work.
In the re-imagined 2016 version, we staged Six Characters as a live reality TV show finale. Our audience was the real, live, in-studio audience, joining us for an adventure into the world of celebrity, unscripted reality TV, avatars, and the alternate universe that is social media.
Adapted and Directed by Alan Berks
|Reality Show Star||T. Michael Brown|
|Reality Show Star||Rachel Finch|
|Reality Show Star||Sam Landman|
|Ms. Nakeesha||Dana Lee Thompson|
Design and Production
|Lighting Design||Jesse Cogswell|
|Sound Design||Katharine Horowitz|
|Set Design||Zeb Hultz|
|Puppet Design||Christopher Lutter-Gardella|
|Stage Manager||Jacob Miller|
|Video Design||Paul Moehring|
|Props Design||Sarah Salisbury|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Tracy Swenson|
Marketing and Administration
|University Residency Coordinator||Amelia Brown|
|Marketing and PR||Deb Ervin|
|Graphic Design||Kelsye Gould|
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.
Special thanks to Park Square Theatre for presenting this version, and the University of St. Thomas for the partnership residency.
Originally created by Alan Berks and Company and co-produced with Gremlin Theatre