Northwestern theatre department to celebrate centennial
Northwestern College’s theatre department will celebrate its centennial with two days of special events Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29.
According to Dr. Robert Hubbard, professor of theatre and department chair, the first record in the college’s archives of a play being performed dates back to March 16, 1923. That was the year the senior class of Northwestern Classical Academy, NWC’s predecessor, performed “Gold Bug” in Orange City’s town hall. The play took place after a smallpox and flu outbreak delayed production by several months, and the school paid a $25 royalty fee—the equivalent of $400 in today’s currency.
To celebrate the centennial, all Northwestern alumni who majored or participated in theatre are invited back to campus, as are former theatre faculty and members of the Theatre Patrons. Registrations are due by Saturday, April 8, and may be made by filling out the Google form at bit.ly/NWCtheatrealum.
The weekend will begin with a theatre alumni reunion Friday evening, April 28, at 7 in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center lobby. The gathering will be followed by an 8 p.m. screening in the England Proscenium Theatre of the award-winning documentary short, “Sons of Toledo,” co-written and produced by Matt Foss.
Foss, a 2001 NWC graduate, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from Chicago’s Roosevelt University and a doctorate in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit. He has had an active career in professional theatre and currently serves as an associate professor of theatre at the University of Toledo. In 2019, his adaptation of “ All Quiet on the Western Front” received the Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award. The play had its professional premiere in Chicago in 2019, winning six Jeff Awards—including Best Production, Best Ensemble and Best New Work.
Following the film screening, an intergenerational performance by current and former members of Black V, Northwestern’s comedy improv team, will take place at 9 p.m. in the Allen Black Box Theatre. Steve Hydeen, a 2002 NWC theatre graduate, will direct the show. Hydeen founded and acted in Omaha’s 88improv for 20 years and now runs an acting academy in that city.
On Thursday, April 27, Foss and Hydeen will also participate in a panel discussion for students involved in theatre. They will be joined by two other Northwestern theatre grads: Sheric Hull, who graduated in 2014 and now works as the lighting designer and facilities manager for Ballet Memphis, and Lindsay Bauer, a 2008 graduate who serves as the executive director of the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in the Fairfield (Iowa) Arts & Convention Center and also acts in a one-woman show written by Foss.
Foss, Hydeen, Hull and Bauer will speak at the college’s annual Theatre Patrons banquet on Saturday, April 29. The banquet will be held in the Vogel Community Room of the DeWitt Learning Commons, beginning with a reception at 5 p.m. and followed by the meal at 5:30. In addition to Theatre Patrons, alumni attending the theatre centennial may participate in the banquet by purchasing tickets for $15.
Throughout the weekend, those attending the centennial are invited to visit The Passage, an upstairs hallway in the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center where posters are hung documenting 100 years of Northwestern theatre.
“Our plans are to have The Passage open during intermission for all of our shows,” says Hubbard. “The first few panels cover 10 years each because archival records were more limited prior to the 1970s. In more recent history, there are four or five shows every year.”
The Theatre Centennial Weekend will conclude with Northwestern’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Harvey.” Those who register to attend the centennial weekend events may request a complimentary ticket to see either the Saturday afternoon matinee at 2 p.m. or the 7:30 p.m. evening performance.