Theater department explores the many stages in Minneapolis

“Break a leg” may be commonplace in the theater, however, a group of people backstage work to make sure there are no broken legs by the end of the show.

In order to give backstage and technology scholarship students a better understanding of what goes on in the theatrical world outside of Bethany, nine students and three faculty members traveled to Minneapolis, Minn. on Oct. 23 to explore different local theaters in the area.

“I always hope to give them a varied look at different kinds of theaters – different sizes, different audience reaches – especially because we give this trip to our technical scholarship students and those who have helped us out with tech roles in the past. Some of them may be considering careers in technical theater; it gives them a firsthand look at what it is like to work in a professional theater,” said Theatre Professor Benjamin Inniger.

This was the second year Inniger took this trip and is something he hopes to do every fall. Inniger is able to pull off a trip like this because of connections he has made in the industry.

The first stop was Theatre in the Round, one of the oldest community theaters in the Twin Cities. Here, students got to experience the nonprofessional and regularly performing side of theater. Unlike most theaters, Theatre in the Round has a 360-degree stage with the audience all around. The students got to see its shop and speak to the general manager.

Next, the group saw the Children Theatre Company, which is one of the largest children theaters in the United States. The theater gave them a look at the professional side of this career, where employees are part of a union, which focuses on children as their audience. This allowed student to look at a large operation.

The Bethany Theatre Department took a trip to visit theaters in Minneapolis, Minn., and ended with a performance of "Wicked" at the Guthrie Theatre. Left to right: Juniors Olivia Lee and Cassandra Wiershke, sophomore Kasey Gratz Photo courtesy of Cassie Wierschke
The Bethany Theater department took a trip to visit theaters in Minneapolis, Minn., and ended with a performance of “Wicked” at the Guthrie Theatre. Left to right: Juniors Olivia Lee and Cassandra Wiershke, sophomore Kasey Gratz
Photo courtesy of Cassie Wierschke

Finally, students got to see the Guthrie Theatre and attended a performance of “Wicked.” After the show, the group took a backstage tour of the Guthrie, which is the largest regional theater. It gave them a chance to see what goes into a national traveling production.

Junior David Ott said, “I enjoyed seeing all the different backstage aspects of the theaters. How each individual theater had so many similarities in basis; there is the costume department, shop department and prop department. All of them work interchangeably with each other. Yet, each individual place has their differences and nuances, so that was really cool. And of course, the show ‘Wicked’ was phenomenal.”

Sophomore Kasey Gratz has worked tech for the last three Bethany productions.

“I would probably say in one word, breathtaking. Probably, one of my favorite parts of it was going to a place called Theatre in the Round. It is this really small community theater; it is really awesome and close-knit. They have a mini library of scripts, which are my favorite things to read. So it was really cool and I was geeking out there.

“It was also really cool to see people working in the roles that I do at Bethany but as a living. It just made the reality of it as a job more real to me,” said Gratz.

Additionally, in order for some of these national shows to work their magic, they require some advanced technology.

Inniger said, “A lot of [the students] were impressed by the technology they saw. Some of these are multi-million dollar operations and some of the really cool technology they can afford is not something they can be exposed to at Bethany.”

“I am kind of a technology head myself, so it is neat to see these big operations. What the latest and greatest in technology is and how people are implementing those things in amazing and creative ways is fantastic,” said Inniger.

The trip provided some of the students their first look at a professional theater and a chance to talk with those who work behind the scenes to make sure the show goes off without a hitch. It gave them a chance to see what a day in the life would be like and explore the technical and backstage aspect of the profession.

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