The student weekly of St. Olaf College
Manitou Messenger: Definitions a definitive success

Definitions a definitive success

By Cassie Clark
Contributing Writer
Friday, May 7, 2004

"Definitions," an original play written by Jess Plagens '04, ran April 30 and May 1 in Flaten Hall. The show was Plagens' senior seminar for her IDFA major, and she spent two years writing it. Her hard work paid off: "Definitions" was a delightful mix of the fine arts, combining theatre, music and art in stylish and creative ways.

The play focused on the trials of being a young adult in the 1990s. It combined an artistic journey with universal teen issues. With the shows brief monologues and 1990s hit music, it was a show to which college-age students could relate.

The plot was simple, yet engaging. It revolved around Nick Evans, a junior in high school who receives an all-expenses paid scholarship to go to Tillman School for the Arts. However, things do not turn out quite the way he planned. Between his dysfunctional family and the serious atmosphere of the intense art institute, Evans struggles to prove his artistic talent. In the end, he realizes that his true talent lies in his writing ability, and comes to terms with himself.

The ordeal of struggling to not feel like a failure is a universal feeling with which almost everyone can empathize, and the 90s classics further made the play one to which audience members could relate.

Plagens said that Evans was a very personal character for her. Plagens struggled with her own feelings of inadequacy when she first came to St. Olaf; she had planned to major in music, but did not make it into Manitou Singers. She has also wrestled with her artwork.

However, Plagens said that things worked out for the best in real life as well as in the play. "Theatre is my home because its the place where I can bring my other interests, including creative writing," she said.

She hoped that her play would make people laugh and create discussion about the arts and education.

Although the show was a student-directed production rather than a departmental show, there was no difference in the quality of the show.

"I always enjoy student productions because they allow me to do certain roles that I wouldnt necessarily get in department productions," actor Ted White 05 said. White played the aggressive professor Mr. Golding.

Actor Adam Anderson 05 also enjoys student-run productions. He said that the productions are more laid back and loves the "experimental feel" of the shows. Anderson played two characters, Evans comical younger brother, Andy, and the antagonist of the show, Chester.

There were several glitches in the show, most of them common problems that one might run into in theater productions. Several of the scene changes were abrupt, and a couple of the characters were overdramatized. However, instead of detracting from the performance, the overplay added gusto to the show. The only major problem was the seating arrangement, which made it difficult for some people to have a clear view of the stage.

In spite of these minor problems, "Definitions" stood out among other student-run productions as an original piece. A dramedy to which college students could easily relate, it was definitely worth the watch.

The Manitou Messenger is a student publication of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. It is published weekly during the academic year except during vacations, exam periods and interim. The cost for one year's subscription is $45.00. Postage is paid in Northfield, Minnesota. Manitou Messenger
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