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Spring play is a story of making and missing connections

April 15th, 2019

Ellie Bradley as Rhonda and Jessie Thomas as Scottie

The Department of Theater presents This Random World (the myth of serendipity) by Steven Dietz, April 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m., in Krehbiel Auditorium.

The play is by the “most ubiquitous American playwright whose name you may never have heard,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Tickets are now available in Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center during regular weekday hours and will also be for sale in the Luyken Fine Arts Center box office starting an hour before each performance (subject to availability).

The play contains adult themes and language and is not suitable for young audiences.

Dietz has been named more than once to the list of the “top ten most produced playwrights in America” (excluding Shakespeare), tied with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for number of productions.

To date, he is the author of 37 original plays and the creator of 11 more adapted from other sources.

During the 2015-16 season, he premiered three new plays, including This Random World at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Though several of Dietz’s plays have been produced in New York City, the vast majority show up in American regional theaters, with Seattle and Chicago proving to be two particularly welcoming venues.

Dietz teaches master classes around the United States, and has taught in the MFA playwriting and directing programs at the University of Texas, Austin, since 2006.

This Random World (the myth of serendipity) runs 90 minutes without intermission and largely comprises a set of two-character short scenes involving a cast of interrelated characters: Scottie, a woman in her 70s, her grown children, 29-year-old Tim and 38-year-old Beth, Tim’s ex-girlfriend Claire, Claire’s ex-boyfriend Gary, Scottie’s aide, Bernadette, and Bernadette’s sister, Rhonda.

The New York Times called This Random World “…affecting. … The characters are drawn with empathy and humor, and the cascading series of coincidences neatly illustrate the idea that, as the title suggests, we are all hostages to chance.”

Arts-Louisville.com’s reviewer wrote: “…succeeds on every level. … It’s the sort of play you walk away from having fallen completely in love with every person on the stage. …

“The play is also fast and funny, delivering constant comedy … from the characters and their foibles, including numerous instances of the laughter that comes from a place of painful self-recognition.”

Bethel Adjunct Instructor of Theater Damon Klassen, who is directing Bethel’s production, said, “I chose This Random World for many reasons. But they all hinge on simplicity.

“It is elegant and distilled, tackling the heavy subjects of life and death, grief and loss with a simple grace. It is modern and relevant. Hilarious and tragic. It just felt right.”

The cast of This Random World (the myth of serendipity) is Jessie Thomas, sophomore from Sedgwick, as Scottie Ward; Connick Roe, senior from Kingman, as Tim Ward; Emma Beachy, sophomore from Kalona, Iowa, as Beth Ward; Charlotte Ehrmann, freshman from Augusta, as Bernadette; Ellie Bradley, freshman from Newton, as Rhonda; Madison Hofer-Holdeman, senior from Wichita, as Claire; Luke Unruh, junior from Goessel, as Gary; and Griffin Lamp, freshman from Wichita, as Other Tim Ward (60-something).

The crew includes Kelly Habegger, junior from Hesston, stage manager; Laird Goertzen, technical assistant; Paige Kliewer-McClellan, choreography consultant; and stagehands Alix Gallop, junior from La Mirada, Calif., Trae Gehring, freshman from Pretty Prairie, Donté Powell, senior from Southgate, Mich., Nathaniel Schmucker, sophomore from Moundridge, Ashlyn Troyer, junior from Lyons, Kaylee VanderVeen, sophomore from Arvada, Colo., and Caleb Washington, freshman from Wichita.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for non-Bethel students and senior citizens. Bethel students get in free. Thresher Shop hours are weekdays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. – buy tickets in person or order by phone with a credit card at 316-284-5205.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.