Shakespeare in Kansas

No, this isn’t another version of someone seeing Elvis on the Amtrak to Memphis or Michael Jackson spotted at a secluded resort in Argentina. I’m not claiming that I caught a glimpse of Shakespeare coming out of the Piggly Wiggly. I’m not sure we have Piggly Wiggly in Kansas. What I am sure of is that Cowley College’s drama students have pulled off another fine presentation. Of course, they had some mighty fine help and lots of cooperation and working together.

Altogether, about thirty-five students had parts that involved being on the stage for something other than moving props. There was the star elfin character who hung above the stage in a black silky cocoon for over twenty minutes before emerging at the start of the play. There was the sweet little five-year-old girl whose nocturnal imagination appeared to be the stimulus of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. Then there’s the host of playful fairies, elves and misshapen creatures. Add on the troupe of vagabond actors, lovers and rivals and parents and what-have-you. Well, there are a lot of performers in this production.

Then, there are all the supporting cast. People doing make-up, helping with costume changes which could not have happened without procuring, altering and making costumes. With the sensual scenes of nymphs and fairies, some costumes took less material than others, I suppose, but all of them took time and talent. Then, there are the dozen sets or so of long, pointed ears, the transforming make-up of distortions and deformities. Throughout the play, there were people pulling ropes, handling off-stage tasks that make it possible for things to appear and disappear. Another twenty or so of these folks.

And, of course, you have the people who built seating for the stage so that the play could be performed “in the round.” Enough seating so over a hundred people could enjoy the intimate performance. Ushers and escorts to get us all to those seats. People to serve refreshments at intermission…

All of those hours of memorizing lines, blocking, rehearsals, choreography and on and on and on. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into theatrical performance. Those mesmerizing dances and synchronized motions were mapped out by a choreographer, someone with a vision for physical movement. Those performers did not just come up with that, it took the talents of Cara Kem, our dance instructor, blended with those of the actresses and actors.

And, of course, everything hinges on one other person, someone whose job it is to take responsibility for everything that we see and experience during a production. All of that is guided by a director.

In our case, a director of unusual ability. A director whose own original plays have been performed in New York City. An incredibly talented man, one John Sefel. A man with a gift for drawing from others and from his own imagination. A guy with the ability to see in his mind how a scene or a set or an entire production should look, sound and feel. A person with passion for his craft and for the people who pursue and perform it. When great love and great talent come together, amazing things happen. I saw that last night.

I see it in plays, in workplaces and in churches. I see it in colleges and campgrounds. I see it in concerts and choirs. I’ve seen it in tobacco fields, hayfields and hospitals. When talented people devote themselves to a common cause, when each one performs the individual role with passion and selflessness, amazing things happen.

Especially when we stay in step with our Choreographer and follow the guiding of our Director.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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