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Six student directors will bring one-act plays to Krehbiel Auditorium stage

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – As part of the annual URICA Symposium, the Bethel College theater department presents two evenings of one-act plays, all directed by students.

URICA stands for Undergraduate Research, Internships and Creative Activities. Every spring, the URICA Symposium is a chance for students to give public research presentations, along with theater or music performances and an art exhibit.

The six one-acts can be seen April 25 or 26 beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. Admission is free.

Because of adult language and themes, this show is for mature audiences and not recommended for children.

Dalton Smith, junior from Burrton, is directing Little Duck by Billy Aronson – “a show that embodies the spirit of a children’s show for an adult audience,” Smith said.

“It follows a team as they create and produce a program [for young children], Little Duck. I was really drawn to it because of its focus on real relationships.

“It is funny and throws a few curve balls to keep you on your toes. It’s a great look at workplace relationships and roles in various stages of dysfunction.”

The cast of Little Duck is Ethan Birdwell, Moore, Okla., as Robert, Abby Christensen, Gardner, as Holly, Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, as Anne, Luke Loganbill, Moundridge, as RJ, and Koki Lane, North Newton, as Dr. Jill.

Henry Unruh, senior from Newton, is directing The Goon by Pete Malicki. “I find it hilarious,” he said. “It has super-heroes in it, and fits my personality.”

The process of directing is “a time-consuming, fun process unlike any I have had before,” he said.

The cast of The Goon is Luke Loganbill as Gary, Clinton Unruh, Newton, as Blarney, and Brandon Anderson, De Ridder, La., as MBG.

Junior Leland Brown III, Galveston, Texas, is directing Youtopia by Chaney Kwak.

“Directing one-acts … has been a great experience,” he said, “due mostly … to the cast. It is great working with people you respect and care for.”

The cast of Youtopia is Ethan Birdwell as Frill Freeman, Jacob Miller, Westmoreland, as Kenzo Toyama, Javen Zellner, North Newton, as Margret Juniper, and Natalie Unruh, Clay Center, as Smith Winston.

Jocelyn Wilkinson, senior from San Antonio, Texas, is directing You’re Invited! by Darren Canady. The play “tells the story of the aftermath of a four-year-old peeing on a birthday cake and how adults can often behave like children themselves,” she said.

“Directing has been exhausting but I can’t wait to see the end product and hear the audience’s reception,” she added. “That will be the real payoff for the cast and me.

“Also, there’s a cake fight. What’s to hate?”

The cast of You’re Invited! is Katelyn Melgren, Olathe, as Terri, Cris Nelson, Marietta, Ga., as Jeremy, Justin Haflich, Pretty Prairie, as Will, Casey Schunn, Whitewater, as Paul, and Becca Epp, North Newton, as Maggie.

Cody Claassen, senior from Whitewater, is directing A Bulgarian Rhapsody by Rich Orloff.

“The play is about a young American man visiting his extended family in Bulgaria in order to rediscover hope in simplicity,” Claassen said. “Hijinks ensue.”

The cast of A Bulgarian Rhapsody is Allie Rudeen, Osage City, as Vasilka, Rachel Tamerius, Wichita, as Tatiana, Brandon Anderson as Plemen, Daniel Barrera, Newton, as Stanimir, Justin Haflich as Ken, and Gabriel Garza, San Antonio, Texas, as Desislav.

Sophomore Leah Towle, Lawrence, is directing Echo by Robert Kasper, which “tells the story of a father’s transformation from controlling everything in his life to letting go. This show will be intense.”

She encouraged her fellow students to “come see your friends onstage doing spectacular work bringing this script to life.”

The cast of Echo is Laird Goertzen, Goessel, as Henry, Michelle Unruh, Goessel, as Mary, Jacob Miller as David, and Emily Simpson, Lebanon, Tenn., as Lillian.

The URICA Symposium weekend at Bethel begins April 24 with artist receptions for the Student Art Exhibit and senior Audra Miller’s special photography exhibit, “The Gender Project,” from 6-8 p.m. outside the Fine Arts Center Gallery.

“The Gender Project” and the Student Art Exhibit (paintings, drawings, photography, ceramics, jewelry and book arts by 39 students) can be seen in the FAC Gallery through April 26.

Research presentations will take place in various campus locations April 25, 11 a.m. through 4 p.m.

The student-directed one-acts are April 25 and 26 and the weekend concludes April 27 with the annual Masterworks concert. This year, the concert features work by French composers Berlioz, Debussy and Saint-Saëns; music faculty and alumni soloists; and the Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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