Theatre department to premiere professor’s work

Acting in a play is an exhilarating experience, but shaping the script of the play as it is written is a rare pleasure. It is one which Butler University theatre students are enjoying with the department’s production of “Pigeons.”

Dan Barden, an associate English professor,  wrote “Pigeons.”

The play is set in Greenwich Village, N.Y., and centers on a group of young women involved in an Alcoholics Anonymous group.

The story focuses on the interactions and relationships between the women, particularly when an old secret threatens their beloved AA sponsor.

The framework for “Pigeons” began after a conversation between Barden and Diane Timmerman, a theatre professor.

Timmerman wanted to direct a show with more roles for women to accommodate the many females in the department. Barden then set to work writing such a play.

“I’m doing it out of love for the Butler theatre department, love for Professor Timmerman and love for the group of actors there,” Barden said. “I just want to write something that is as good for them as possible.”

Playwriting is not a new venture for Barden. He has written a handful of plays in his career and has had two published.

Both of those plays were written for the Butler theatre department and directed by Timmerman. His play “Luke’s Father and the Sled” premiered at Butler 10 years ago.

The process began last fall when the theatre department did a read-through with returning alumni. Barden, Timmerman and current students then discussed the play’s strengths and weaknesses.

The show was cast in December, and Barden continued rewriting.

Once rehearsals began, Barden remained dedicated to the production. At rehearsals, Barden absorbed the discussion between actors and Timmerman, asking questions and looking for ways to improve the script.

“He would go home and rewrite, and we would get a new script almost every day,” Timmerman said.

Currently, the play is in its  fifth draft.

The experience of working with Barden in rewriting the script is truly special for the actors, they said.

“It’s a great experience in college to be able to work with a playwright,” said senior Alexa Glaser, who plays Ro Magnussen in the show. “It’s something that, in the real world, is not as common.”

Both Timmerman and the actors agree that there is something very special about producing a show’s first set of performances.

“It’s an empowering experience because we are the first people to bring this play to life,” Timmerman said. “The students have truly developed the script and their roles with the playwright, which is a unique opportunity.”

“Pigeons” opens Feb. 22 and runs through several weekends, closing March 3. The runtime is about 80 minutes, and students can enter for $5 with their IDs.

“It’s a funny play about young people,” Timmerman said. “I think students across campus will really enjoy it.”

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