Archive | Arts & Entertainment

‘The Guys’ pays moving tribute to tragedy

by Mallory Tucker

“People who are ordinary in an extraordinary situation — that’s what this is about.”

Knowing vaguely that Anne Nelson’s play “The Guys” was about the events of 9/11 and based off her own experience, I walked in on a very different hour and a half than I was expecting at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Black Box Theatre.

Ashley Nossett (sr) portrays Joan, a journalist, and Seth Lawrence (sr) plays Nick, an FDNY captain, during a rehearsal of "The Guys."

Ashley Nossett (sr) portrays Joan, a journalist, and Seth Lawrence (sr) plays Nick, an FDNY fire captain, during a rehearsal of “The Guys.”

Expecting a New York City stage scenery, I was surprised to be opened up with Ashley Nossett (sr) who plays Joan, a distressed editor on the Upper West Side of NYC, standing in the middle of a living room.

The set consisted only of what you would find in an average living room, along with rustic newspapers hanging from the ceiling at a distance.

The play features a two-person cast. The male lead, Nick, came out shortly after Joan’s introduction. Nick, a grieving New York City Fire Department Captain played by Seth Lawrence (sr), was seeking a writer to help him write eulogies for several men on his crew who died during the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

One by one, Nick and Joan slowly analyzed each deceased life of the FDNY crew members in order for Joan to write an effective eulogy for Nick to read at the funerals.

One specific thought ran through my head throughout the entire duration of the play:

“Lawrence cannot be a senior in college!”

Had I not known Lawrence was playing a part in a play, I would have bet money that he truly was the captain of a fire department in the uniform he wore on stage. Lawrence looked the part perfectly, not to mention double his actual age. Kudos to the costume and hair/makeup designers.

The setting of this play is approximately two weeks after the attacks on 9/11. Contrary to what I was expecting, “The Guys” displays the agonizing anguish and grief the events of 9/11 caused friends and family of the lives lost during the attack, rather than the initial incident itself.

Throughout the play, the scenes flashed back and forth between Nick and Joan’s conversation and Joan’s soliloquies.

Suddenly, a scene would break and the spotlight would shine upon Joan as the audience was given insight on her perspective of the tragedy as an outsider looking in. Nossett did a remarkable job professing her long lines to the audience with such a dramatic flare that could keep a person absorbed for hours.

10410432_846805905343262_4116076101690966037_nIt was apparent to me that the play was not only portraying the detrimental effects of 9/11 on survivors or survivors of the deceased, it was a play about the effects of the tragedy on Americans as an entirety.

The set and the costumes were basic, but I was impressed at how powerful and emotional Lawrence and Nossett made the play despite the simplicity.

“The Guys” is about such a critical event in American history and required a serious tone for the bulk of the performance. The solemnity made it difficult for me to relate to the limited bits of humor the script entailed.

Though lacking in humor, I was far from disappointed by the dramatics.

I believe the two-person cast did an incredible, professional job as they spoke for ninety minutes straight with no break. They managed to portray an inspiring amount of emotion for the audience to experience.

Multiple sniffles rang through the audience, including my own, as the power of the story spoke to each of our hearts.

I left the theatre thinking hard about my own experience and memories from 9/11. “The Guys” is a play IWU can expect to be proud of.

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17 DOs and DON’Ts for Freshmen

Being a freshman or transfer student can be tough, especially when you don’t know how to work the campus. Not to worry, though. The staff of The Sojourn has come up with some essential tips for incoming students.

1. DO take advantage of tutoring, The Center for Life Calling and The Inkwell.

2. DO get to know your advisers and professors. Ask them to meet if you need help.

3. DO walk through other buildings to your class during the winter time.

4. DO look at your degree audit more than once per semester and DO plan ahead.

5. DO NOT go to McConn and expect to get any homework done.

6. DO walk on the right side of the sidewalks like you are driving on a road. This eliminates the awkward passing-around-people-you-end-up-running-into scenario.

7. DO utilize the elevators in Elder Hall so you don’t die on your way to psychology.

8. DO NOT stress out if you don’t know what to do with your life yet.

9. DO refer to Wildcat as Wildkitty.

10. DO lock up your bikes in the winter so that people don’t steal them and run into snow piles with them.

11. DO take a buddy with you the first time you go to the workout room in the REC so you don’t look like an idiot trying to figure out the machines.

12. DO NOT call professors “teachers”.

13. DO wait around the fresh brew at McConn starting at 11:40 p.m. so that you can get free fresh brew before it runs out if you plan on pulling an all-nighter.

14. DO name your illegal pets things like “My Socks” or “My Pants” so that people don’t get suspicious when you refer to them.

15. DO NOT have a panic attack if you do not find “The One” first semester of college.

16. DO just quickly grab homework and go to the student center when you have to evacuate your dorm for fire drills.

17. DO go “Titanic” on your longboard with your significant other.

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“The Guys” of Grant County honored

Thirteen years ago, journalist Anne Nelson, now teaching at Columbia University, sat down with a New York City fire captain to help him write the eulogies of eight firefighters who died in 9/11, according to an article on the Columbia News webpage.

After hearing their stories, Nelson was extremely moved. Just a few weeks later, on a chance meeting with Jim Simpson, artistic director of the Flea Theatre, Nelson proposed the idea of a play based on her experience with the fire captain.

Eight days later, she’d written her first play, and two days after that, Simpson had scheduled it to be performed. Simpson’s wife, actress Sigourney Weaver, expressed interest in performing it and asked her friend actor Bill Murray (yes, the Bill Murray) to play the other role. Within a week, meetings for rehearsal had begun, according to the Flea Theatre website.

On Sept. 25, the Indiana Wesleyan University Theatre Guild will put on a free performance of Nelson’s play, “The Guys,” for the firemen of Grant County to honor and thank them for their work, some of whom actually went out to New York to help during 9/11.  

The following day, Sept. 26, the play will be open to the public.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Joan, played by Ashley Nossett (sr), interviews fire captain Nick, played by Seth Lawrence (sr), about the men he lost on 9/11. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Director Sharla Ball (sr) chose the play for her senior project as “a chance to share a story that I knew most of the audience had been a part of, … and I knew everybody would remember it.” She described it as less of a historical play and more of “a memory play.”

With an uncle who was a career firefighter and a grandpa who was a volunteer firefighter, Ball is most excited for the performances for the fire station. They will also be touring the play, getting another chance on Oct. 10 to perform for Hendricks County fire departments.

The show was cast in May, with Ashley Nossett (sr) portraying Joan, based off Nelson herself, and Seth Lawrence (sr), portraying Nick, the fire captain. They also met with Fire Chief Paul David and Captain Paul Thompson in May in order to start communicating about the performance for the fire station.

To begin their research for the play, Ball and Nossett got the chance to go to New York City during May term and tour a fire department that was just a block away from Ground Zero, right across the street from the towers, and hear one of the fireman’s stories. They saw the plaques on the wall of the station for the men that died in 9/11. They also saw the 9/11 Memorial. They also got to see a show at the Flea Theatre, where “The Guys” was originally performed.

To prepare for the role as fire captain, Lawrence shadowed the firemen of Grant County for a day. Getting up at six in the morning to be at the fire station for roll call, he got to hang out with the firemen, hear their stories, see how the fire truck worked and understand what their daily routine was like. 

“After time, things become diluted,” Ball said. She hopes that the play will be a good way “to remember what it was like back when it happened.” 

“Most of our generation has been living in a society where we’ve been in war since then,” Ball said. “People don’t realize that we’re still living in this era where we’re not at peace.”

Ball said the play is a chance to see what the world was like before 2001, before 9/11 changed everything.

Doing the Tango. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Nick teaches Joan how to dance. Photo by Hannah Whelchel.

Thirteen years after 9/11, “The Guys” has touched people in multiple ways.

Nelson referred to a Cambodian student who once spoke to her of the performance. The student said, “I just lost my best friend to cancer. This play is about me.”

“Some take it very literally,” Nelson said, “as a piece of history; some take it as a piece about mourning; some about finding friendship. I think where a person is at in life affects how they hear it.”

At the beginning of the play, Joan delivers a monologue about how different people have different degrees of distance from an event, like the ripples of being affected. 

“Everyone’s trying to find their own relationship to the event,” Nelson said.

The play will run Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays will also have a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for IWU employees and $12 for adults, according to the IWU Theatre Guild website.

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Switchfoot comes to IWU for second time

switchfoot_img01_hiresFive California surfers turned musicians will travel to Marion, Ind. April 4 to share songs about experiencing the world.

Switchfoot last came to Indiana Wesleyan University in spring 2010 when the Chapel-Auditorium opened for the first time. Now four years later, they’ve released their ninth studio album, “Fading West.”

The band will headline the 8 p.m. concert for Fusion, a youth event hosted by IWU, alongside music by the Brandon Grissom Band, Jordan Brown (alumna ‘12) and a dance performance by Momentum.

This concert is in the midst of Switchfoot’s Fading West tour that began in September 2013. Chad Butler, Switchfoot’s drummer, says some of the band’s best shows have happened in small towns on the tour.

“In those big cities, they get concerts every night,” Butler says. “And then sometimes in the smaller towns, the music is more appreciated.”

Butler is one of the original three Switchfoot members, alongside brothers Jon and Tim Foreman. Even after spending 17 years together and the additions of Jerome Fontamillis and Drew Shirley, Butler says it’s still fun.

“It’s such a gift,” Butler says. “Every morning I wake up and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play music that I believe in with people I love.”

And now, the band has done something completely different than ever before — starred in a documentary.

“We picked our favorite places around the planet that had good surfing and went to look for new musical inspiration and chase waves around the world,” Butler says.

The documentary is called “Fading West,” just like the album, and follows the band through their 2012 World Tour. Butler says this it’s the biggest project Switchfoot has ever done in their almost two decades of music. All of the songs on their newest album are based off places they visited.

“It’s a documentary about music and surfing, but it’s also a look behind the scenes to the humanity and the brotherhood that we have in the band,” Butler says. “It has a real heart beat and I think it’s a human story that anybody can relate to.”

Since the documentary focused on one year of the band’s life, they were able to travel throughout the world and wherever they wanted. Butler says Indonesia and South Africa were his two favorite places.

In Capetown, South Africa, the band visited a children’s choir called the Kuyasa Kids. These children became orphans because of AIDS. It was Switchfoot’s second time visiting them and on the “Fading West” album, they’re featured in the song “The World You Want.”

“So these kids, they have a really difficult circumstance, and yet they have so much hope in their eyes,” Butler says. “And we were really inspired working with them … We have a lot to learn from them.”

According to Butler, the band has always had a heart for kids. For the past 10 years, Switchfoot has hosted a concert and surf contest called Switchfoot Bro-Am during the summer. All funds raised at the event through vendors, sponsorships and an auction benefit San Diego children’s charities.

“Kids are really important to us,” Butler says. “I feel like we’ve been given so much and music has given us such an opportunity. We look for opportunities to give back to shine the spotlight on kids who need help, who need a hand.”

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