Posted on November 16, 2012 by Tia Lalani

Haroun and the Sea of Stories runs Nov 15-17, 22-24, at the Augustana Theatre. Doors at 7 pm, show at 7:30. $5 students, $15 all others.

By Christopher Thrall

This fall, Augustana drama students are helping to create a Sea of Stories. From November 15 to 17, and again from November 22 to 24, you can enjoy a stage adaption of Salman Rushdie’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories produced by a cast of 18 students.

“It’s an epic story about a boy named Haroun,” explains Mariah St. Germain (4th year BA Drama). “He goes on a journey to save both his father and the Sea of Stories, which is the source of all stories in the world.”

Mariah is not only an actor, but is also the production coordinator. She oversees the cast in costuming, set construction and painting, and acts as liaison between the production and the department or the community. “One neat thing about producing a show at Augustana is that we don’t have separate departments for costumes or set,” she smiles. “We have to do all that ourselves. We get to experience all different aspects of theatre.”

The cast has incorporated the philosophy of Augustana’s 2012/13 Academic Theme of Resilience. Their approach is organic, relying on simple gestures or choices for big, dramatic effect. When they aren’t on stage, they are making the sound effects and background music. It takes a village to mount an Augustana production.

“Haroun and the Sea of Stories really has an underlying theme of resilience,” agrees Levi Borejko (4th year BA Drama), who plays Haroun. “It’s about the environment and intelligence – especially in the form of literature. It goes really well with the Bill McKibben lecture from last month and has a community mentality which fits with Augustana.” This community spirit extends from the script to the production itself: the cast ranges from first-year science students to senior drama majors, all committed to realizing Haroun’s epic quest.

Ally Larson, who plays corrupt politician Snooty Buttoo, found this broad range of experience the best thing about Augustana’s Bachelor of Arts program in Drama. “It was such a surprise that I came here and loved it so much,” she admits. “Originally I had thought of getting a BFA, but I would never consider it after coming here. This program teaches you to do everything. You learn to be resourceful, to be adventurous. BFA students don’t get the same opportunity: they stay in the studio.”

“The drama program has a lot to offer,” Mariah says, “with three different experts in their fields. Kristine Nutting is an amazing movement and vocal coach. Kevin Sutley is an award-winning director. Sparky [Paul Johnson – ed.] has his origins in improv. You can learn things you didn’t expect and have a chance to work on – to own – those skills.”

Levi has discovered an interest in writing and directing, which she might have overlooked in a BFA acting program. The class sizes are comparable. “Plus, it humbles us in a way,” she adds, “since we have to do all this work that actors normally get done for them.” In most of the smaller acting companies across Canada and around the world, this range of skills both on stage and off will make Augustana students much more appealing recruits.

“Augustana is also a liberal arts campus,” says Mariah, “so we’re exposed to an even broader spectrum. I took a psychology minor – and could have done math or English or whatever.”

Watch Haroun and the Sea of Stories at the Augustana Theatre, November 15 – 17 and 22 – 24. Doors open at 7 pm, shows start at 7:30 and run about two hours with an intermission. Student tickets are $5, all others are $15 at the door.

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