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April 12, 2002


LA CROSSE, Wis.—The Viterbo and La Crosse communities will get a chance to see the award-winning one-act plays by three Viterbo students on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27 during the Fresh Ink Series. The three one-act plays that will be staged each evening include:

  • King Me, by junior Dan Nord, from White Bear Lake, Minn.: A surreal tale set in a jail cell, the play is about the cages we build around ourselves by our own actions or inaction.
  • Dummies, by senior Ben Minnis, from Des Moines, Iowa: is about a man who decides to quit living in the real world and, instead, chooses to hole himself up in his apartment with two mannequins as companions.
  • Roark's Lament, by senior Keely Wolter, from Brooklyn Center, Minn.: Seeing each other for the first time in a many years, a brother and sister are forced to confront the past at their father's funeral.

Nord and his play King Me won the playwriting competition at this year's Region III American College Theatre Festival (ACTF). He was joined in the playwriting finals by Minnis and Wolter-making it the first time in the history of region III that three of the six finalists have been from the same school.

Nord, Minnis, and Wolter entered their plays in the Original One-Act Competition at the annual festival held in January in Evansville, Ind. They competed against 42 other entries from graduate and undergraduate students at schools throughout the region, which includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

"It is really quite amazing that a small school like Viterbo would have three of the finalists. This is especially significant considering the fact that these students were competing against graduate students in playwriting programs at such prestigious schools as Michigan State, Indiana State, and the University of Illinois," said Dean Yohnk, region III playwriting chair for ACTF and former theatre professor at Viterbo.

"This is a true indication of the level of ability and excellence achieved by the Viterbo playwriting students. I am very proud of these gifted young playwrights," he added.

According to Yohnk, who coordinates all new student written play competitions and presentations at the regional festival, the scripts were each judged blindly. The names of the playwrights and their schools were removed from the plays and sent to a finalist selection committee composed of professors from throughout the region. To keep the process fair, judges were not allowed to evaluate their own students' work. The six finalist plays were then read aloud at the festival and evaluated and ranked by judges from schools outside of region III.

As the winner, Nord received a small monetary reward and is invited back to next year's regional ACTF to present a full-scale production of his original work. His work will also be published by the Kennedy Center.

The Fresh Ink Series will be staged in the Black Box Theatre at 4 p.m. Tickets are $4. Revenue from the productions will assist with the expenses for students to travel to next year's regional festival.

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