Student-Written and Produced “Unexpectedly Wholesome” Play Lives Up to Its Name

Katherine+Skoretz+and+her+theater+students+during+the+Q%26A+session+after+their+February+9+performance.+Photo+Credit%3A+Lexi+Murphy

Katherine Skoretz and her theater students during the Q&A session after their February 9 performance. Photo Credit: Lexi Murphy

Five ARCC theater students collaborated to create the script and performance.  

By Lexi Murphy
Staff Writer

On January 31 – February 9, 2020, Anoka Ramsey Community College (ARCC) hosted a play on the Cambridge campus called “A Cambridge Production, unexpectedly wholesome” written and acted by Anoka Ramsey Cambridge theater students.  

These students had different reasons to join the production: loved to create stories, loved theater, needed a credit, friends were involved, and wanting to improve abilities. The writing and the production were a collaborative piece by five students. 

Katherine Skoretz and her theater students during the Q&A session after their February 9 performance. Photo Credit: Lexi Murphy

This collaboration was made possible because of the director, Katherine Skoretz, who worked with the students in creating the stories featured in the playShe coached them and gave ideas for them to research. An example of this research is a diary from the 1800s, which gave them the title of “Unexpectedly wholesome.”  

In the early days of writing, student Mackenzie Marvin admitted, “[T]he very first draft was ungodly boring.” But, with much patience, they persisted, and the script got better with every rewrite; however, it still wasn’t what they knew it could be. After much consideration, Marvin knew the best way to make it better was to make it a comedy.  

The comedy idea worked well but generating interest during the audition process was more challenging. Marvin explained, “Yeah, it’s boring, but wholesome. So, we picked the boring content and made it a parody. . . There was no audition process! Nobody came. It was so sad, at least I for one lost hope on the spot.” To compensate, the four actors played multiple roles during the performance.  

Despite their small size, the cast walked away from their experience with positive memories. One of the actors commented, “My favorite was the 4H scene. Just being a character that’s just so disheveled and doesn’t want to do this anymore.” Another actor explained, “I liked being the grandma. Old lady sits in me really well.”  

One of Marvin’s highlights from the performance was the singing and dancing zombie bit. It was one of our shots at dark humor, and we pulled it off quite well. We came up with the scene during improv exercises early in the production.  

She explained that the creation of this scene was the result of a theater skills exercise. Nick Stromquist, the guy who played the zombie in the improv and in the play, we began the improv scene for the first time, the Nick just started singing and dancing, everything rhymed, the melody was on point, and I yelled, “Get the knife!” and chased the zombie with an imaginary knife and all was chaos, the zombie started singing about not wanting to get stabbed other than singing to us about not jumping off a bridge, it was chaos and havoc, other drama club students were looking on laughing and crying, and we loved it. 

The infamous Cambridge Walmart rock. Image Credit: Walmart Rock of Cambridge via Facebook

Not only did the play include a zombie, it also included the infamous Cambridge Walmart Rock, which is a well-known boulder in the local Walmart parking lot. “People do run into it because as you turn into the parking lot, like, you kind of don’t see it, and you might turn too far and go right on top of it. There is like a Facebook page that you can go that says, ‘another victim down’ whenever someone crashes into it.” Director Skoretz explained.  

After the performance, the cast held a question and answer session to connect with the audience and describe more about the process of creating this product, from beginning to end. Marvin described her involvement in the play and its importance to her future goalsMy interest began with acting, then writing, then directing, maybe producing. It goes down the line. That’s why I wanted to join, I wanted to be part of the process, for once. 

As the production has come full circle, perhaps other theater students involved echo Marvin’s sentiments about the experience. “The process was amazing, hilarious. It was so fun. We cried laughing every day. I would gladly do it again.”