‘Life, Death and Everything in Between’

Ivan Rodden presents new play featuring three CNU students.

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Dr. Ivan Rodden, Assistant Professor of English, presented an original play in July titled "Life, Death and Everything In-Between" featuring three Christopher Newport students. Rodden, whose creative work appears under the pseudonym Ivan Faute, has written plays that have been produced in New York, Chicago, Houston and London. Rodden’s latest work is his first play to be showcased at Capital Fringe in Washington, D.C., and his first to be developed into a movement play. Movement plays use dancing to convey the meaning of the plot. “This play was a fresh approach for me,” Rodden says. “From the development of the text to the language of the play, it was all to complement the physical aspects, which is something I’ve never done before.”

The play originated as a workshop in December 2015 as a collaboration with Leigh Fondakowski of the Life Jacket Theatre Company in New York. “It presented a new way to think about play development and storytelling,” Rodden explains. He then put these concepts into a series of developmental workshops on campus last fall, which led to a partnership with local choreographer Suzanne Wiltgen.

As the play began to take shape, Rodden and Wiltgen held auditions for the show. They eventually cast three students from the Department of Theater and Dance, Nitya Kalidindi (‘20), Sydney Jones (‘19) and Krystal Hurr (‘21). “The structure and nature of the play are very challenging and confusing at first, but these actors did an amazing job with it. Our success was truly thanks to the collaborative nature of the project.”

Hurr, a freshman, was delighted by the process of the production. “Telling a story not just with lines but movement as a focal point became very much like a dance performance,” she says. “It was very rewarding. Given the quality and originality of the performance, the difficulty of integrating the complex choreography was well worth the effort.”

Rodden looks back on the experience with humility and a new appreciation for collaborative endeavors. “I can’t say this is the most elegant play I’ve ever written, but it does work on so many more levels than I could have ever thought of sitting alone at a desk.”

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