By Oliver Wong ’13
I came to Macalester never having been to Minnesota. When I arrived, I was surprised by an orientation experience called “Into the Streets,” in which members of each first-year course go into the Twin Cities community to see how their course topic connects to the Cities. My class, “Theatre and Performance in the Twin Cities,” visited a handful of the numerous theaters here. We met the owners—and often the directors and actors— of these places and learned about volunteer and internship opportunities.
After that, theater professor Lara Nielsen took us to view shows in locations as diverse as the Penumbra Theatre, the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, the University of Minnesota’s Rarig Center, the Walker Art Center, and Open Book, where the exceptional Ten Thousand Things Theatre Company often performs. In class we discussed what we experienced as audiences, and related the performances to analysis of genre, representational strategies, and social issues. We wrote short essays on elements of performance crafts such as playwriting, directing, design, acting, and the curatorial effects of institutional location. Having a small class allowed us to have intimate discussions about the weighty issues that theater and performance portray, such as race and gender.
With all these common experiences, we really bonded as a class. As the weeks flew by, I wished the semester were longer. We were like a family, and that made the Minnesota winter a little warmer