A stage of their own

U thespians tear it up in rip-roaring, Guthrie-collaborated production

Ashley Montondo plays Genia Hofreiter in Undiscovered Country Thursday at Rarig Center.

Mark Vancleave

Ashley Montondo plays Genia Hofreiter in Undiscovered Country Thursday at Rarig Center.

Grace Gouker

Who: University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program Senior Class

What: âÄúUndiscovered CountryâÄù (Das Weite Land) written by Arthur Schnitzler, adapted by Tom Stoppard

When: Oct. 22 through 30

Where: Stoll Thrust Theater in the Rarig Center

Cost: $5-18


ItâÄôs a collaboration some University of Minnesota BFA theater students wait their entire college careers for. All previous productions within their graduating class have been in preparation for this finale, exhibiting the work theyâÄôve put into their craft. This event is their final theater production before graduation, and there couldnâÄôt be a better opportunity.

âÄúItâÄôs been really great being in a production with our whole class. We got split up a lot for shows, but this year weâÄôll all be together. ItâÄôs really exciting,âÄù said Jennifer McGraw, who plays Mrs. Rhone in Tom StoppardâÄôs adaptation of âÄúUndiscovered Country.âÄù This year, John Miller-Stephany has joined the students from the Guthrie Theater. He recently directed this summerâÄôs âÄúA Streetcar Named DesireâÄù at the Guthrie, and the students were ecstatic about having him on board.

âÄúAfter being in the fourth year of the program, itâÄôs really nice to have someone that âÄî from the beginning âÄî has treated us like professional actors. HeâÄôs held us to the highest standard, and weâÄôre starting to feel less like students,âÄù         said McGraw.

The UniversityâÄôs acting program is conservatory-styled, but still offers classes in true beaux arts fashion. So if you want to go for a double major in, say, African American Studies, English or something else, you still can.

âÄúSo youâÄôre not dedicating yourself solely to acting âÄî youâÄôre getting the exact same training other conservatories would get, but with the liberal arts base. We like to promote thinking artists,âÄù Harold Adam Harris said. Harris plays Mr. Rhone in âÄúUndiscovered Country.âÄù

The play outlines the tangled, comedic lives and loves of Viennese socialites, dabbling in adultery, betrayal, outright lying, and passive-aggressive behavior which could make even the most staunch Minnesotan blush. The love lives are one of the most fascinating aspects of the production, bringing the vile and the beautiful into one theatric, romantic entity.

âÄúThey do a lot of forgiving in this play that I didnâÄôt do in my personal experience,âÄù Harris said. âÄúBut the fact that you could forgive and then love someone more, thatâÄôs a story almost everyone can relate to.âÄù

While the first two acts of âÄúUndiscovered CountryâÄù deal with the intricate story-weaving, the third act cuts loose and focuses on the comedic circumstances that the characters find themselves in.

âÄúThe third act brings some much-needed levity to the play, most definitely,âÄù McGraw said.

For those who want to see professionally trained actors in a Guthrie-directed play and do not have the dough to put toward a Guthrie-housed production âÄî this is the ticket.