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ISSUE 117 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/19/2003

'Collected Stories' told well

By Cassie Limpert
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 19, 2003

Artist in Residence Dona Werner Freeman and student Maren Bush '04 performed last weekend in "Collected Stories," an in-depth look at the relationship between a faculty member and her writing graduate student.

The play, written by Donald Margulies, follows the developing and often confusing relationship between Ruth, a professor (played by Freeman), and Lisa, a writing student (played by Bush). Their relationship progresses from from mentorship to friendship to co-dependency and ultimately, to betrayal. "It really looks into the intimacy and interweaving between students and professors," said Freeman.

Bush read about "Collected Stories" in high school and knew she wanted to be a part of the production someday. She approached Freeman with the idea last year, and then asked Sarah Rasmussen ë01 to direct the two-person show.

Bush and Freeman did extraordinary jobs convincing the audience of the emotional connection between Ruth and Lisa. The black box theater's unique ground level set created intimacy between the audience and the actresses. Both characters played off each other's energy and passion for writing, in turn teaching each other the joys of youth and the wisdom needed in the professional world.

Margulies believes that everyone can relate at one point or another to the characters. "Most people, at some point in their lives, have known what it's like to be a student or a teacher, a child or a parent, to have loved someone not their child with the intensity of a parent for a child or vice versa," he said.

Colin Christie '07 enjoyed the intricate details that went into the production. "The acting was riveting and the lighting was phenomenal," he said. "It was as if the lighting made another character in the play." He also thought the ringing of the phone added to the emotions felt between the women.

Freeman and Bush worked together only one week in May before parting for the summer. While both stayed in contact with the director, they worked independently for three months developing their characters and memorizing their lines. They reconvened at the end of August to start all-day practices.

Both performers agreed that the hardest part of the show was the time constraints, but that it was wonderful working in such a small cast. "I've been able to focus solely on their [Ruth and Lisa's] relationship," said Bush. "Acting is about giving as much to the other actor as you can." She also thinks that working with a professional director and faculty made "the quality of the performance better."

Since Collected Stories was not a St. Olaf Theater production, the show was produced solely by the cast and volunteers. Since they received no funds, they created costumes from what they could find in their own closets and from consignment stores. They borrowed props from the theater department, and Rasmussen even built part of the set herself. "The theater has been so supportive of us," said Freeman. She says the

generosity is due to "the people I work with really love the theater."

Freeman also enjoyed the opportunity to work with Rasmussen again. She taught Rasmussen for three years before her graduation. "It's rare for me to see my students [after graduation]," she said.

Bush enjoyed the opportunity to do Collected Stories in a different setting than other St. Olaf productions. "It's nice to be at St. Olaf but working with two professionals," she said.

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