NSU students perform original play in Edinburgh, Scotland

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:18 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Northern State University students performed at the world’s largest performing arts festival earlier this month. Now, they’re bringing their show back to the Hub City.

After visiting the crypts of ‘unknown saints’ in Austria, Aberdeen playwright Deena Ronayne got the inspiration to write a historical comedy from a quote in the movie The First Wives Club about Pope Paul VI eliminating saints.

”I was thinking, that was something that occurred that upset a lot of Catholics and caused a lot of upset, but what if the saints heard about it and they got upset and they don’t want to lose their benefits in the exclusive Canonized Club?” said Ronayne.

So, The Canonized Club: The Curious Lives & Deaths of the Saints was penned.

Meanwhile, NSU theater professor Kane Anderson was brainstorming ways he could give his students performance experience outside of the U.S.

”He came up to me chatting about how he was potentially interested in doing a study abroad program with the theater students, potentially doing it at a Fringe, potentially with new work. I said, ‘I think I can help,’” said Ronayne.

Fringe festivals are performing arts festivals that take place in countries all over the world.

”But the largest and one of the oldest is Edinburgh Fringe. That one is very highly respected. There’s often over a thousand shows, even just post-COVID,” said Ronayne.

That’s exactly where the six student actors and two student technicians got to complete academic credit earlier this month. The group traveled to Edinburgh to perform five shows and earned three-and-a-half stars out of four on a review.

For NSU junior Anya Jones, this was only her second trip abroad.

”I’ve left the country once before, and this was just an incredible opportunity to see a country that I had never seen before. Scotland was gorgeous,” said Jones.

The cast also visited another city in Scotland with a very familiar name: Aberdeen.

“There was an Aberdeen sign as well, which we had to get a photo with,” said Jones.

The cast prepared for the show in two weeks, then spent 13 days abroad. After arriving back in South Dakota, the group took a short break before preparing to perform the show at the Black Box Theater in the Johnson Fine Arts Center at NSU.

”I know that I’m a little exhausted, but I cannot wait to show people this show and see all the hard work that we put into it, what we thought was good enough to show Scotland,” said Jones.

Performances of The Canonized Club: The Curious Lives & Deaths of the Saints will take place August 25th and 26th at 7:30 p.m. and August 27th at 3 p.m.