NEW ULM The New Ulm Actors Community Theater (NUACT) will be tackling the complex and difficult task of trying to bring understanding to the U.S. Dakota Conflict this Thursday and Friday with its new play "Dogs in the Hot Moon or Behind the Barricades."
Aimed at making the conflict understandable to even children, the play was created by NUACT Director Paul Warshauer. The script takes the unexpected route of interpretive improvisation for the various scenes, instead of the traditional historical documentary approach of many other plays on the subject.
"There has been so many books, so many essays written on the subject. We decided to go with the questions a child would ask," said Warshauer, "We want to take these huge themes and make the understandable to everybody. We want it to be easy to grasp even if you're a child or somebody for out of town."
The children in the play discuss the idea of. 'whose land is this anyway?' Pictured from left are: Emily Schneider, Ashley Schaefer, Wayne Roberts, Dawson Sellner, Wyatt Roberts, John Menzel and Wyll Roberts.
The Adults discussing the idea of 'What would Democrats and Republicans discuss in 1862.'
Adults: (front) Marley Pietz, (seated) Judy Sellner, Gene Brand, (standing from l) David Henning, Mark Santelman, Ruth Schaefer, John Knisley, Stephanie Rolloff, Keara Roberts, Judy Holm.
Members of the staff reviewing the new script and cast list. Pictured from left: Rowan Andersen, Keara Roberts, Paul Warshauer, Judy Sellner and Josh Menzel.
Members of the cast discuss what the name of the play really means.
Warshauer said he has always preferred creating plays through improvisation. He said he started in fifth grade when he had to ad-lib new lines for Shakespear's "Macbeth" for his friend, who didn't have enough lines. He said improvisation inherently makes dialogue that feels natural since it comes from real conversation. He also said it naturally lead the play to what feels correct for the story.
Warshauer said he hopes that an easily graspable play will generate informed and open dialogue about the conflict. He said he hopes it will also generate empathy for both sides of the conflict by giving people an appreciation of the difficult position both sides were in.
The play is structured around 10 adult actors and 10 child actors starting each scene with the children asking fundament questions about the conflict. Question that were posed included "What is the concept of 'ownership' in different cultures?" and "Why do people go to war?" The actors than perform scenes aimed at trying to answer the questions. The play seeks to get both views of the issues, with an even division of actors between the two sides. The title of the play itself is aimed at both sides of the conflict. The "Dogs in the Hot Moon" was a line by Chief Little Crow, which he said to chide his warriors for being too anxious to attack the settlers. The "Behind the Barricades" phrase is aimed at describing the attitudes of settlers that felt besieged in New Ulm.
"Dogs in the Hot Moon or Behind the Barricades"
Created and Directed by: Paul Warshauer
Assistant Director: Keara Roberts
Produced by: Judy Sellner
Set Design by: Reed Glawe
Tech Direction by: Sheldon Rieke
Slide Projections by: Josh Menzel
Apprentice: Rowan Anderso
Technical Director: Sheldon Rieke
Program: Mary Glawe
House Manager:Vickie Kuehn
The play was not produced in any specific connection to any other organization or event. But, the play is intended to be part of the overall 150th commemoration of the U.S. Dakota Conflict that will held this year.
The play opens on Thursday, August 23 at 7:00 pm and runs again on Friday at 2:00 pm and at 7:00 pm at the DAC Auditorium located at 15 N State Street in New Ulm. Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. Tickets can be purchased at HyVee, the Chamber of Commerce, Cashwise or at the door. Tickets are also available online at www.newulmact.com or by calling (507) 359-9990.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)