“Language of Aangels” production at theater festival

Audrey Hull

Earlier this year, the Lawrence theatre
arts department presented Naomi Iizuka’s “Language of Angels,” directed by Professor Kathy Privatt and starring students Jeremy Bamsch, Nicole Crawford, Jem Herron, Zach Johnson, Hesper Juhnke, Asher Perlman, Katrina Schuster and Julie Silver.
First performed in San Francisco in 2000, the play follows the eerie story of a group of working-class friends who are haunted by the disappearance of a young girl. Playwright Iizuka interspersed elements
from classical Japanese Noh theater with rural idioms to form the backdrop for the story.
The production earned one of 12 showcase positions chosen from 58 entries in the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival. Schools from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan were represented. The festival was held Jan. 10-15 at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Ill.
“Language of Angels” is the second Lawrence production to be featured in the ACTF festival after “Translations” in 2000.
Some 1,000 productions and over 20,000 students nationwide were invited to the festival, meaning that the Lawrence production competed with much larger schools, some with graduate theater programs.
Privatt was especially gratified with Lawrence’s acceptance to the festival, remarking that “this invitation to perform at the festival is really an honor.”
According to Perlman, a sophomore, Lawrence was indeed well represented at the festival. “I just thought it was a really cool story,” he said, acknowledging the unusual plot when asked why he auditioned
for the play.
Perlman observed that the members
of the cast and crew “had a lot of fun together” and therefore performed strongly, adding that freshmen Herron and Juhnke held their own among the group of upperclassmen.
Silver, a senior, was particularly enthusiastic about the festival’s response to the performance. She compared the cast and crew to an amoeba, noting that the cast was “amazingly cohesive” due to its intimate size and short length of the play. Silver commented that Professor Richlund Frielund, technical director Dave Owens, and fellow Annette Thornton, who accompanied the cast and crew to the festival, were instrumental in bringing the production to life.
All in all, seven Lawrence students – five from the “Language of Angels” production – were nominated for individual
competitions in acting, sound design, and makeup design. Johnson, Silver and Perlman were nominated for the prestigious
Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, while Senior Bryan Teoh was nominated for sound design and sophomore Jes Vittitoe was chosen for makeup design. Four regional winners will be invited in April to perform at the national finals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.