Student-Run Play To Be Presented This Week in Thunderground
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
An underground play performed in an underground venue by an under-the-radar group of student actors sounds just fine to Nathan de Laet for his directorial debut.
“Any opportunity I get to direct a fantastic show, I’ll jump on it,” de Laet says of “The Sign of Jonah,” a relatively obscure but critically acclaimed German play that will be presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday in Thunderground, on the lower level of Thunder Alley. Admission is free.
De Laet, a GCU junior, is no stranger to Ethington Theatre audiences, having played prominent roles in a number of productions since his arrival on campus. This time, he’s guiding a relatively inexperienced cast of 11 peers — including seven freshmen — in an hourlong courtroom drama that’s about post-World War II Germany (and a whole lot more).
“It asks the question of who is responsible for all the evil in the world,” de Laet says. “It’s wonderfully honest and gut-wrenching, and I’ve had to fight back tears. It’s an emotional play.”
The title is taken from the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:39: “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
The College of Fine Arts and Production plans to put on one student-run play each semester, as part of a “second series” that will be squeezed in around the Ethington Theatre Series. The one-act operas “Comedy on the Bridge” and “Beauty and the Beast” are currently occupying Ethington.
De Laet says audiences can expect works that are “a little edgy” from the second series. He says learning to direct has been an eye-opener, promising to treat his own directors “a little nicer” in the future.
“This is diving in,” he says of directing. “You run your own auditions, you create your own schedules and you have to know exactly what you want from the actors. You’ve got to be like a coach in certain ways.”
Like this: When one actor persisted in mispronouncing “lapse” as “lasp,” de Laet had him run a few laps around the theatre to make the correction stick.
Theatre instructor Michael Kary sees a natural director in de Laet, who is known and respected in the college for his studious approach.
“He’s found directing to be something he’s good at and has a connection with,” Kary says. “If he had (directed) something he didn’t care so much about, this would have been much easier for him. At the start, he was frightened to have it take ahold of him.
“This play taps into something at the heart of all humanity. It’s deeply spiritual.”
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.