"Time’s Up" play inspires students, staff

Sarah Dickson plays Thaïs in the play “Time’s Up.” Photos by Madison Hunter

Sarah Dickson plays Thaïs in the play “Time’s Up.” Photos by Madison Hunter

The University of Minnesota Duluth will be presenting a 1,000-year-old play called “Time’s Up,” an adaptation of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim.

The play has been revised and inspired by the #MeToo movement, according to the play’s adaptor and director Jenna Soleo-Shanks. Also a theatre history assistant professor, Soleo-Shanks is not only interested in teaching theatre but is more interested in giving ideas.

“People ask questions,” Soleo-Shanks said. “They have experience and power in terms of gender and know how to deal with bad behavior against men who are called out for abusive power and might lose their careers.”

According to “Time’s Up” choreographer and dance associate professor Rebecca Katz-Harwood, she starts with the ideas, but also the script itself, and works with Soleo-Shanks, deciding what is the story they are telling through dance.

“She wanted to do that by making it into a fully-produced play as opposed to just making it into a book that you would read with updated language,” Katz-Harwood said. “[Then] she asked me if I would work with her on it.”

Former UMD professor Andy Kust composes the music for “Time’s Up.” Three UMD students perform different things: Tascha Balsaitis is the costume designer, and, according to Katz-Harwood, Sarah Dickson and Jenessa Iverson are the main characters in the play.

“There are no characters who only dance,” Katz-Harwood said. “Everybody does some of everything.”

Iverson is a member of the ensemble, playing a few different parts in the play, including a harlot and a woman of the institution at the conclusion.

“Each ensemble member has different parts that they play,” Katz-Harwood said, “so they change characters throughout the play.”

“Time’s Up” inspires Iverson because she says it is an “interesting process,” taking a piece of work that had already existed from the medieval times and adding on to it.

“[It’s] the message of the story I find inspiring,” Iverson said. “It attaches itself to the Me Too movement and people causing other people to do things against their will.”

Iverson believes in the concept of free choice and free will “for us as human individuals.”

“I think that this method of art is a cool way of expressing that,” she said.

Iverson, Dickson and Katz-Harwood said they rehearse about six nights a week for four hours per rehearsal.

“We started on the last week of January,” Katz-Harwood said. “The play will start public performances on March 7. But for this particular play, we actually started working on it, having conversations about it a year ago.”

Dickson portrays Thais, who goes on a journey with Pafnucius, who attempts to convert her. She said “Time’s Up” is one of the most unique shows that she has ever been a part of.

“It’s very different,” Dickson said. “It’s not standard realism or everything’s set in stone. It’s a journey as an actor and it’s very inspiring to be a part of because you’re using your mind and your body in a completely different way than you normally would.”

Dickson said that the play is Pafnucius’ story, but it is through Thais that he is able to tell his stories.

“It is a bigger role because the journey is shown through myself as Thais,” Dickson said.

Both Katz-Harwood and Soleo-Shanks completed plenty of work before bringing the actors in to form together, trying out ideas for two weeks in August 2018 doing what is called a “development workshop.”

“So what people are going to see when they come to the Dudley Theatre starting on March 7th is a process that’s started just in the end of January,” Katz-Harwood said. “But there was a bigger, longer process that came first.”

“Time’s Up” will start on March 7 to 9 and 19 to 23, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., and March 24 at 2 p.m., which is American Sign Language interpreted, at UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center — Dudley Experimental Theatre. Tickets will be $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, UMD faculty and staff, and veterans; $10 for students; and $8 for UMD students.

CultureJake Laakso