Homecoming for Goshen College is about to get a lot more theatrical.
This weekend, three performances from four alumni and one current senior will take the stage at Umble Center. Peter Eash-Scott ’99, Greg Wendling ’99, Michelle Milne ’95, Heather Kropf ’94 and Violet Smucker ’20 are involved in three unique shows for the Goshen community past and present.
The theater events begin Friday, Oct. 4 with Smucker’s senior theater recital, “Working Between the Lines,” at 8 p.m. in the Umble Center. The show consists of original plays and scenes written by current GC students. Admission is free, and seating will be general admission to both campus and the public. There will also be an open reception to follow.
Saturday, Oct. 5 is when “The Squendling Brothers Present: Hey! It’s Your Reunion! Now What? or, The Best Way to Avoid the Uncomfortable Experience of Alumni Weekend is By Sitting in a Dark Theater, Watching a Show, and Not Talking to Anyone” appears on the Umble stage. The sketch comedy revue starts at 4 p.m.
According to Eash-Scott, he and Wendling have “diametrically opposed views” in regards to what their show is about.
“I find it a thoughtful, satirical look at so much of modern life and culture,” said Eash-Scott.
Wendling takes a more zoological point of view about the content. “I, on the other hand, think that, if you gave them a year to do it, it could have been written by a family of three to five lemurs,” said Wendling. “They have prehensile tails, so think of the words-per-minute typing advantages alone.”
When asked what the audience should take away from their show, the Squendling Brothers again had different perspectives.
“I strongly feel that — like all art — our piece has a profundity and power that transcends ‘sketch comedy’ and offers audience members a chance to view our world and reality maybe a little differently,” said Eash-Scott.
“While I respect his views on this question, Peter’s view on this particular question is one I simply don’t respect,” Wendling said. “However, I also have nothing to add.”
All seats are $5, and the ticket window will open at 3 p.m. for people to buy tickets or go to will-call.
In comparison to the Squendling Brothers’ comedy, there is a stark contrast in regards to the work of writer-performer Milne and singer-songwriter Kropf.
Milne and Kropf’s show, “We Know There Are Oceans”, covers their individual experiences in their journeys through life by way of stories and music. Their original approach to sharing their worldliness with audience members was not a conventional one.
“Our hope was to perform in off-script locations — house concerts, community spaces, outdoors, etc. We have wanted the audience with and around us,” Kropf said. “Performing at Homecoming will be our first theater setting and I’m looking forward to seeing how the show will feel in this kind of space.”
According to its creators, the show is constantly evolving. Milne continues to tweak little things and will change the stories based on the feedback she gets from audiences.
“It’s a show that gathers our loose ends together and allows listeners to reflect on their own lives and travels through places, relationships, social and political landscapes,” said Kropf.
“We Know There Are Oceans” is in the Umble Center on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. All seats are $5. The ticket window will open at 1 p.m. for ticket purchase or will-call.
This year’s alumni performers say that the arts are crucial to breathing life into the tasks of everyday life.
“Artists are our cultural shaman[s],” Kropf said. “We need the arts to move us and integrate our many selves, so that we know we are connected to the great mystery of living.”
Eash-Scott and Wendling agree…somewhat.
“While Greg views our purpose as purely entertainment and probably sees all theater and performance art similarly,” said Eash-Scott, “I believe we have an obligation to engage and take in art, as I think it fundamentally changes us, opening us up to new ways of being, thinking and acting.”
Wendling said, “I couldn’t agree more with the opposite of what Peter said. This show is just for fun. Think about it: Can a song be considered art? Because I never learned anything from a song, other than the books of the New Testament.”
For more on these Homecoming performances and other events occurring this weekend, visit https://www.goshen.edu/alumni/homecoming/schedule/.