Town-gown debate part of Arts Fest
GREENCASTLE -- Relations between Greencastle and DePauw were depicted in several performances presented by the Greencastle Service Theatre, an improvisational performance group made up of both DePauw and Greencastle community members, on Tuesday.
Sponsored by the Department of Communication and Theatre for Art Fest 2009, the group performed several possible scenarios that involved interaction between students, faculty and town folk.
The first one, called "Invisible Worker," set a scene of a custodial staff member trying to clean an area where two university students were seated on the floor talking. The two eventually move to the Hub and have an interaction with the checkout person.
The scene was repeated and members of the audience were asked shout "stop" and take the place of one of the players.
The next person to play the cleaning person asked students to help with the work. This changed the dynamic of the interaction between players.
In the second part of this vignette was a scene in the Hub and the interaction with the checkout person.
Professor Eric Edberg jumped in and presented a new version of the checkout person, making it much more personal.
He told the group his act came from the interaction he had recently while visiting his daughter in acting school in New York City.
"I got there half an hour early so I got to know the doorman pretty well," he said. "He knew my daughter, gave the impression he looked out for the students. Yet Kullan (Edberg's daughter) didn't know the doorman."
A visiting professor from University of Kansas, Karen Erb, noted how strong the differences were between Greencastle and the university.
She commented that other larger universities have some similar issues but not as strong as the differences she saw in Greencastle.
At the end of the event, everyone sat in a circle and talked about the different scenarios and how they could effect change between the town and university relationships.
"It makes it much easier to say 'it's them not us,'" someone commented. "In a small setting it's much easier to see who is town and who is gown."
"Food service or custodial staffs are partners even though we don't usually think of them that way," said Associate Professor Tim Good, who facilitated the event, which was held at the Putnam County Public Library.
Edberg brought up a staff member who liked to be engaged with the staff and students.
"She wants to be part of the life," he said. "Sometimes when she engages me I'm busy with something else and have to excuse myself. I feel bad."
One local citizen who lives on the edge of the campus talked about the students being overwhelmed their freshmen year.
One of the student actors told about having a house mother to whom everyone grew close.
"One person became friendly and everybody else did too," she said. "We even chipped in and bought her a Christmas gift. Once we moved out of that dorm though we didn't really maintain the friendship."
The Service Theatre is an ongoing project. They will perform the same scenarios on campus Wednesday night.
"I'm sure we'll have a completely different experience," said Good.
For more information about the project contact Good at email@example.com