“Founding” to shine light on the

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu
Students look at the first Grand Valley catalog

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu Students look at the first Grand Valley catalog

Josh Brunsting

Before a school can have an anniversary, there has to be a founding of the establishment.

However, Grand Valley State University’s founding is something that not many people, even its own students students, know about.

“I don’t know much outside of the fact that this year will be the school’s 50th anniversary,” said Mitchell Ganzon, a freshman at GVSU. “The school is relatively young, particularly when looking at other established schools in the state like Michigan State and the University of Michigan, but GVSU seems to lack that storybook past that other schools have.”

In order to help change this, a new play is currently being put together with the hopes of giving GVSU a sense of mythology behind its founding.

“Founding,” a collaborative project between the Advanced Playwriting class and the Theater Program, follows a group of students writing a play about the school’s origin, which ironically enough parallels the true reality of the piece.

“(Theater professor) Karen Libman approached me with an idea about doing something to honor the school’s 50th anniversary,” said GVSU writing professor Austin Bunn. “We had many ideas, ranging from a set of 10 10-minute plays to an actual play on the founding of the school. This one not only sounded the most interesting when starting the project, but it has become something wholly different than we could have expected.”

The play was written and will be produced by a group of students, which was the idea from the very beginning.

“The idea began after we started talking about how it would be cool to help produce student pieces in honor of the anniversary,” Libman said. “We got a little bit of money to put this on, and we are now set to premiere the play on Nov. 12.”

However, there is still a long way to go. The team putting the play together will need to go through several processes before it hits the stage.

“We currently have three students working on revising the play’s script, and from there it’s on to auditions and call backs,” Bunn said. “We will be holding auditions and callbacks on Sept. 10-12, and once we cast the roles, two consultants, a play write and a director will actually come in to help get this production to the stage.”

While the experience is still in the early stages, it has been a new one for some involved.

“It’s been an ongoing experience, with some nights being better or worse than others, but it’s been a great one none the less,” Bunn said. “We started in early January, and it’s been a truly organic experience, and one that I’m sure has proven to be eye opening for students as much as us.”

Whether it be a character such as the play’s fictional director, Midnight, coming from inspiration found within the project group, or a moment involving a trip to former GVSU President Arend Lubbers’ home, Bunn thinks this will be a piece the community will truly enjoy.

“I distinctly remember going to Arend Lubbers’ home and having a conversation with the former president,” he said. “Not only did that conversation inform much of the play, but the transcript of our conversation has been directly implanted into the screenplay. It’s that kind of organic experience that makes this a fun project.”

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