Students put on 'The Heidi Chronicles'

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Christina Vitale can describe the upcoming play, "The Heidi Chronicles," in fewer than 10 words: "A thoughtful, humorous reflection on the feminist movement impact."

"Chronicles," an entirely student-run production, premieres at 7:30 p.m. today at the Rust Flexible Theatre on Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus and runs through Sunday. Vitale, the director and a junior at Southeast, chose the piece because of its "very simple theme of relationships, expectations and compromise," she said.

"It focuses on well-educated and strong characters," Vitale said. "There is a lot of great cultural reference and intelligent humor."

The play follows the main character, Heidi Holland, from 1965 to 1989, chronicling her life alongside the rise and fall of feminism. Each scene is a different year and location.

"It looks at the true feminists at heart and the ones who followed feminism as a phase," Vitale said, adding that it is "a story about people but it's also a reflection about an entire time period."

Emily Johnson, a junior at Southeast, portrays Heidi.

"The play follows one character," Johnson said. "I can't remember any other play we've done that was centered on one particular character," Johnson said.

Both Johnson and Vitale call the play educational and historical; saying they learned a lot about the Feminist Movement from preparing for the play. Johnson said "Chronicles" opened her eyes to "feminism and humanism."

"I never thought of myself as a feminist, [I thought] that it didn't apply to me and happened before my time," Johnson said. "But once I read the play, I learned it's way more about being able to relate to your gender and the human race as a whole."

Freshman Stephanie Kluba, who plays three characters, said she learned other important lessons.

"My first character is living with her boyfriend and her parents are divorced," Kluba said. "In this time period, that's a little more accepted, but I had to think of how things would be perceived in different time periods and generations."

Vitale said she believes the younger audiences will learn from the play, as the cast did.

"The younger audience will be surprised at the depiction of how things were at that time and what women went through," Vitale said.

"Chronicles" is one of the two student-run plays the theatre department offers every year. Other than faculty choosing the director, assigning technical crew and helping with advertising, students do most of the work. Vitale cast the play and ran the rehearsals. The budget came from student or faculty contributions.

Tickets for "Chronicles" are $8.50, $3 with student discount. Tickets are available at the box office, and MetroTix outlets.

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