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Grand Valley history on stage in 'Founding'

  • "Founding" actors, left to right, Sophie Ni as "Mi Mi", Ben Cole as "Hayes" and Darion Murchison as "Zeke"

Posted on October 25, 2010

Students and faculty from the Grand Valley's Theater Program and Department of Writing have united to produce a special event celebrating the university's 50th Anniversary.

"Founding," a Grand Valley Mainstage Production, will be performed November 12-13 and November 18-20 at 7:30 p.m., and November 14 at 2 p.m. All performances are in the Louis Armstrong Theatre, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus. Advance tickets, $6-12, are available at the LAT Box Office at (616)-331-2300, Startickets at 800-585-3737, or A reception will follow the opening night performance.

The play was a collaborative project created by the Advanced Playwriting Class, under the direction of Austin Bunn, assistant professor of writing, and the Theater Program, under the direction of theater professor Karen Libman. Written and directed by undergraduates, the play examines the role of history, the comedy of the classroom and the challenge of becoming yourself. It is sponsored by the School of Communications and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Student Alli Klosner, from Saugatuck, participated in the playwriting class that interviewed, among others, Grand Valley President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers, and Joan Burch, a member of the Pioneer Class of 1967.

"The biggest rule for writers is to write what you know," said Klosner, who admits that she needed to do research to learn Grand Valley's early history. "It is incredible what can happen when a diverse group of people work together on a project. Each of us left our personal stamp on this production, which will now become part of Grand Valley's legacy."

Bunn adds that the students didn't want to do a play that merely presented historical facts, so they used their creativity to include history throughout scenes depicting the students struggling with how to produce such a play. Libman noted that this was a truly collaborative effort, and the first time a Mainstage Production has been directed by students.

Visiting guest artists Jennifer Fawcett and Sean Lewis, from the Iowa-based Working Group Theatre Company, worked with a group of students to finalize the script and offer suggestions on how to stage the show to effectively move from past to present throughout the production.

For more information visit A GVSU 50th Anniversary event.

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