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Spring play centers on human interconnectedness

April 26th, 2021

Nathaniel Schmucker and Jaxie Gerk rehearse a scene from "I and You" by Lauren Gunderson

Live theater returns to Bethel with "I and You" by Lauren Gunderson on the Krehbiel Auditorium stage, April 29-May 1.

The play will be in Luyken Fine Arts Center, Thursday-Saturday, with a Saturday afternoon matinee and a livestream option.

Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. and the Saturday matinee is at 2 p.m. 

Face coverings will be required, and physical distancing enforced, for in-person performances.

Tickets for all performances can be purchased during regular business hours in Thresher Shop on campus, or at the door starting one hour before each performance (subject to availability). Livestream tickets can be purchased online at any time.

“I was introduced I and You by Lauren Gunderson in the fall of 2019,” said director Karen Robu, Bethel assistant professor of communication arts, “and fell in love with it.

“I wish I could elaborate more on why the play was so impactful to me, but if I did, it would be a ‘spoiler alert’ for the audience!

“Suffice to say, it spoke to an interconnectedness of all humanity that I had experienced. After over a year living through a pandemic, that statement is even more true.”

The play has only two roles, so it is double cast. Jaxie Gerk, senior from Holyoke, Colo., and Hayden Honomichi, freshman from Great Bend, appear as Caroline and Anthony in Thursday’s performance and the Saturday matinee. Charlotte Ehrmann, senior from Augusta, and Nathaniel Schmucker, senior from Moundridge, star on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Gunderson, the most produced living playwright in America, sums up I and You this way: “One afternoon, Anthony arrives unexpectedly at classmate Caroline’s door bearing a beat-up copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, an urgent assignment from their English teacher.

“Homebound due to illness, Caroline hasn’t been to school in months, but she is as quick and sardonic as Anthony is athletic, sensitive and popular. As these two let down their guards and share their secrets, this seemingly mundane poetry project unlocks a much deeper mystery that has brought them together.

I and You is an ode to youth, life, love and the strange beauty of human connectedness.”

The play deals with adult themes, including serious illness and death, and contains strong language. Robu said she would probably rate it PG-13 and does not recommend it for children.

The creative team is Rachel Geyer, Oxford, Iowa, stage manager; DeNaira Hiwalker, Ethete, Wyo., light board operator; Destiny Tollette, Killeen, Texas, sound board operator; and set, lights and sound design by the Theater Practicum class. The stage crew is Marcus LaBonde, Grand Junction, Colo., Cade Paulin, Stratford, Okla., the Theater Practicum class and the cast.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults and for the livestream, $8 for non-Bethel students and adults age 65 and older, and $2 for Bethel students (unless faculty have paid for the ticket).

Thresher Shop hours are Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. You can also purchase tickets by phone with credit card information by calling 316-284-5205.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #26 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, and earned its third-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2020-21; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and is #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities named by as “Best for Financial Aid,” as well as #23 “Safest College Towns in the U.S.,” ranked by for 2020-21. For more information, see


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Bethel College prepares students for meaningful lives of work and service through faith formation, the liberal arts, and practical experience in career pathways.