Story that I wrote for Dordt's school newspaper:
What does a woman trapped in the social conventions of the 1920s and a man searching for his slain father’s sword in Edo, Japan have in common?
Both are subjects of the two senior shows being performed this April, “Machinal,” by American playwright and journalist Sophie Treadwell and “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo” by Japanese playwrights Tsuuchi Jihei II and Tsuuchi Hanemon.
Senior theatre majors Danielle Roos and Zachary Eggebeen serve as this years’ round of senior directors, with Roos directing “Machinal” and Eggebeen taking on “Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo.”
With auditions freshly wrapped up and casting in place, both directors are ready to begin what Eggebeen calls “the culmination of [their] time at Dordt” as theatre majors, and to put “everything [they’ve] learned to work”
Roos’s “Machinal,” an expressionist play, follows the journey of a woman in the 1920s forced into situations dictated by convention. Written by a woman and based on a true story, Roos was drawn to the play in part due to it’s honest treatment of real and universal struggles of women.
“It’s the story of a young woman going though crises in her life that she feels she has no control over,” Roos said. “That’s something that I thought was very human.”
Eggebeen’s play of choice follows a young man searching for the sword of his murdered father in Edo, Japan, while encountering romance and villainy along the way.
A love of Japanese theatre and it’s history led Eggebeen to his choice. “It has everything,” Eggebeen says, “romance, comedy, drama.”
Aside from the attraction of story, these plays also present unique directorial challenges as well as exciting opportunities for the directors.
“I love working with actors and seeing them grow into characters and get excited about the roles they’re doing,” said Roos, also noting excitedly her casting success.
She’s also taking on a more complex style with expressionism, a style she’s never attempted, allowing her to “learn different directing styles and expand [her] horizons.”
Roos’s Faculty Supervisor April Hubbard commented that expressionism “does not attempt to mimic reality, but to distort and emphasize certain aspects of reality in order to reveal an inner truth” and this play is, to her knowledge, the “first such script performed at Dordt.”
“Danielle's directing experience is already quite extensive for a student, and I anticipate this will be a stunning project of high quality,” Hubbard said.
Eggebeen is excited about facing the challenge of teaching a unique and unfamiliar form of theatre to his actors, as well as introducing it to a mostly unfamiliar audience.
“In Kabuki, the style is much less realistic than in western acting,” he said. “There really isn't the suspension of disbelief that you get in western theatre.”
Ryan Donahoe, Dordt Theatre Deparment’s technical director and Eggebeen’s student supervisor, is extremely excited about the opportunity that Dordt and the surrounding community will have to attend Zach's performances.
“Kabuki is a Japanese theatre style that has never been seen in this area and it is an amazing opportunity for people to witness this in person,” said Donahoe.
Both directors will be working with a combined number of over 25 student actors, their supervisors, and student-run set, lighting, makeup, costume and sound designs. Donahoe figures that all together there are over 50 students involved, offering a great opportunity for majors and non-majors to be involved in theatre.
“Dordt is full of wonderfully talented people in the theatre,” said Eggebeen.
Roos also expressed her excitement to “combine visions” and see a “full concept come to life” in a challenging yet exciting collaborative effort.
With a college career coming to a close and four years of theatre study under their belts, these two directors will have a chance to show the Dordt community a personal extension of themselves and what those four have brought them to.