No strings attached: Pinocchio comes to life onstage


Augustana’s theatre department delivers Pinocchio as its first play for the 2017-18 school year.

“Pinocchio”, a childhood favorite most people are familiar with, will be presented on the big stage by past and present Augustana students this fall.

Childlike wonder and imagination will surface on the stage and watchers will be thrown back into their youth once again.

The play is directed by Jen Luke, a freelance director who worked for The Black Hills Playhouse theatre company during the summer.

Luke’s “Pinocchio” stages a play where the audience interacts with the actors from the beginning and finds itself invested in the character development of each actor.

Although the magic of the “Pinocchio” most people have grown up with, Luke’s play takes the story and gives it a fun twist for comedic effect.

The department was looking for a theatre production suitable for young audiences. Many of the features of this show will deliver a heartwarming, youthful perception to its spectators.

Auditions for “Pinocchio” ran back in May, and many of the students had the summer to unwind before beginning their rehearsals. Once school started, however, the students had to adjust to long rehearsals and many lines to memorize.

As part of the rehearsal process, the students wished to embody what it meant to be a kid again.

“We needed to remember how to play,” Luke said, explaining how she got the students into character.

The theatre group took the time to go to Brookings and play in a child’s museum followed by a trip to get ice cream afterwards.

Elements of “Pinocchio” will feature a childhood and imaginative aspect. Its creative use of space and props intend to amaze audience through the performance.

Unlike most theatre performances, this adaptation of “Pinocchio” will only feature four actors playing multiple characters at once. 

Augustana graduate Miranda Miller is the only student in the production to play one character: Pinocchio. 

Senior Kyle Marks and sophomores Elizabeth Schumacher and Coleman Peterson will each portray four characters each.

Like any large production, Pinocchio had its share of difficulties. Having such a small cast led to a new set of challenges for the students.

The biggest challenge of making Pinocchio was scheduling. 

With a character missing at rehearsals, the actors would struggle to accomplish much at practice. They were what Luke called “a chair with three legs that needed four.”

Despite some obstacles, the students are ready and excited to put on the show.

“I like the idea of creating theatre for children that [adults] can watch and go home and remember how to make believe,” Luke said.

Hopefully, their goal will be fulfilled and adults will go home feeling as imaginative as their children.

“Pinocchio” will be on scene Sept. 28 through 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 at 2:30 p.m. in the Edith Mortenson Center. 

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and free for K-12 students, Augustana students and faculty with ID.

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