May 23, 2011

Alumni Take Production to Festival in NY

By Rachel Judy

Regent University alumni Alaska Reece Vance '10 (Communication & the Arts) and Nathan Schmidt '11 (Communication & the Arts) met in 2008 when a mutual friend suggested they collaborate on a script for a play. That collaboration resulted in The Disorientation of Butterflies, a musical that was recently accepted into the New York International Fringe Festival, one of the largest multi-arts festivals in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues in New York City.
The Disorientation of Butterflies will be performed during the festival, scheduled for Aug. 12-28, 2011. Regent Communication & the Arts alumni Bradley James Archer '10, Katie Fridsma '10, Elizabeth Litwak '07 and Hannah Hughes '11, and current MFA in Acting student Marji Peters will perform in the musical.

"The Disorientation of Butterflies is a musical story of a young woman struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts and thoughts of death," explained Vance, who wrote the script and lyrics for the music. "It also deals with the lives of her mother and sister and how they deal with the mysteries of life and death."

Vance's theatre company, The Drifting Theatre, will produce the musical.

Schmidt, who composed the music for the show, acknowledges that tackling such a serious topic in a musical is a challenge. "The Disorientation of Butterflies is about death and suicide and how you use your time. It's not a musical in the light fluffy sense," he said. "Theatre is always about the story ... rather than the music. The music is another tool that comes along to undergird the story and tell it better."

"I hope this production will speak to anyone who has ever questioned existence or struggled with depression, anxiety or thoughts of suicide, as well as those with loved ones dealing with these issues," Vance added. "As a writer, I have something I want to say to the world, and any opportunity to have people listen is a blessing and an honor."

Both agree that the topics are intense but extremely relevant to today's audiences. "Reading [Vance's] script really helped me to understand more of what people who struggle with [depression] face—what exactly they're dealing with ... the issue of control, the burning desire to understand why things happen in life," Schmidt said.

The show debuted in 2010 at Regent as a lab production, and Vance and Schmidt hope to return to the university for another performance before they take the show to New York.

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