Art and performance can often be an impactful way to process deeply troubling and emotional situations. When Arthur Grothe, assistant professor of theatre arts, noticed the contrast of the exciting new construction and development in downtown Eau Claire, alongside the growing population of the homeless in the same part of town, he saw an opportunity to examine this subject and expose some truth by way of artistic expression.
"I have long believed that the theater serves two distinct purposes - to entertain and to inform. It has been my hope that this project will inform and engage audiences, ultimately generating commitment in our community to address the issue of homelessness," Grothe said.
The production will take place not on campus, but at Banbury Place, a re-purposed tire factory in the heart of downtown Eau Claire.
"We choose the space at Banbury because we wanted this project to be rough, dirty and engaging. The space there allowed us the freedom to stage pieces creatively and break down the divide between spectator and performer. Banbury has also been extremely generous in donating the space for this project," Grothe said about this choice of location.
Grothe's concept will be brought to the stage by a team of Blugolds who have put in tremendous amounts of time and work. They include three student researchers, four students who worked on publicity and performance needs, and Grothe's devised theater students, a class of 15 students. See the "In this story" section below for a full listing of participants.
"It has been wonderful to create and collaborate with all the student researchers and performers on this project. Every student has contributed to the final product that you will see and brought unique and interesting perspectives to the table."
The event is free of charge, but donations will be collected in support of Positive Avenues, a daytime drop-in shelter for those struggling with homelessness in Eau Claire. The money collected will contribute toward the purchase of a new industrial dishwasher for the venue.
Volume One magazine recently covered the production and you can read the full article here.
Photo credit Volume One: Left to right, students Zach Staads, Mitchell Marten, Darby Hand and Barry Inman rehearse new original theatrical work by Arthur Grothe, Invisible Truth.