Bluffton University Theatre presents ‘Paragon Springs’
First staged 23 years ago and set nearly 100 years ago, “Paragon Springs” was chosen by director Dr. Melissa Friesen for Bluffton University’s fall play because the issues presented transcend time.
“For me, one big question in this play is how do you communicate effectively for positive change,” said Friesen.
In fact, Steven Dietz’s play is actually an adaptation of an even older play that explores the same question, Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.”
Based in rural Wisconsin, the famed “healing waters” of Paragon Springs have been mysteriously poisoned, and Dr. Thomas Stockman is determined to share the truth no matter the consequences. Over the course of the play, the lure of capitalism and the greed of small-town self-interest are put squarely on trial. It’s all staged during a pivotal transition in the way information is disseminated as radio is becoming more and more popular.
“The town is almost divided into two groups: the dreamers and idealists versus the pragmatists and realists and they’re interspersed with politicians,” said Friesen. “How do you communicate hard topics without alienating people? Is the truth alone enough? What is the role of media? It all feels incredibly relevant.”
While the cast is busy practicing lines and determining their blocking, crew members are busy at work creating the set. Three locations are being designed including the main character’s home, the outskirts of town and the town’s newspaper office. Unique for this production, the audience will serve as the crowd/townspeople for a climactic scene.
“It’s not audience participation,” said Friesen, “but by that point, you’ll be thinking about what side you are on.”
Performances of “Paragon Springs” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9-11 and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 in College Hall’s Ramseyer Auditorium. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens, Bluffton faculty and staff and non-Bluffton students. Bluffton University students can enjoy the play for free. Tickets can be purchased or reserved at www.bluffton.edu/theatre or through the HomeTown Fan ticketing app.
Arts at Bluffton events are made possible due to generous support from donors including David Bertsche ’57 and James ’83 and Rhonda (Louis ’84) Fox. “Paragon Springs” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.
Performances of “Paragon Springs” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9-11 and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 in College Hall’s Ramseyer Auditorium. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for senior citizens, Bluffton faculty and staff and non-Bluffton students.