Theatre B opened its 15th season on Oct.12 with a new location and an on-stage adaption of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, “1984.”
Adapted for the stage by Michael Gene Sullivan, “1984” tells the story of Winston Smith, a middle-aged man who has been imprisoned by his tyrannical government of Oceania— all for the contents of his diary.
Dr. David Wintersteen, a director of theatre at Concordia, is one of the founding members of Theatre B and the director of “1984.” When Theatre B first started, one of Wintersteen’s visions for the ensemble was that it would be a professional-quality theatre company performing thought-provoking shows for adults. Over the years, this goal has not changed.
“We still are making thought-provoking shows for grown-ups. One of our taglines is ‘rearranging the furniture of your mind,’ which is the notion that we’re going to do stuff that makes people think,” Wintersteen said.
Wintersteen also voiced how he has personally benefitted from being an active member of the ensemble. “As a faculty member, it’s relatively easy to get distanced from the work of making theatre in a professional situation, rather than an academic one,” he said. “So, that’s one of the things it’s given me; I’ve been able to really stay fresh with my own methodology as a performer, and so, when I’m teaching or acting, that’s much more immediate. It’s given me an artistic outlet to be able to do work with people who aren’t students.”
According to Wintersteen, Theatre B most often leans towards putting on contemporary shows.
“We do a lot of award-winning plays, in addition to some unpublished works; just a hodgepodge,” said Wintersteen. “We try to do stuff within the last five years—relatively new plays. We’re not doing stuff from the 50’s, we’re not doing Shakespeare.”
“1984” is no exception. Though the novel was published in 1949, the stage adaption was published in 2013.
“I think Orwell’s 1984 is an important story; there’s a reason it’s become classic literature,” said Wintersteen. “I think this is a really interesting adaptation, and I think we got a strong take on it. I think people will really find it engaging.”
For the past 14 years, Theatre B has produced its shows out of Fargo. However, citing rising rent costs in downtown Fargo, the nonprofit theatre company announced in a press release this summer that it would move across the river to the former Lincoln School at 215 10th St. N. in Moorhead.
Rachel McCloud, a senior at Concordia and a regular consumer of Theatre B’s productions, is excited about the move.
”I’m thrilled Theatre B is moving to a new space and is able to grow in a way that allows more people to see their productions,” she said.
Missy Teeters, an ensemble member at Theatre B who graduated from Concordia in 2006, is also excited about the company’s new location.
“With the new space we’ve gotten a lot of technical upgrades, and I’m really looking forward to working with our new sound system,” Teeters said.
Teeters is working on sound design for the production of “1984.” And the dystopian story, she said, could not be more relevant to the world we find ourselves living in today.
“The idea of ‘doublethink’ applies in regard to the words and actions of so many of our political leaders, the reports and stories covered by our news outlets, and even some political discussion I’ve had among friends,” Teeters said “It’s something that I never imagined I would actually see in practice when I first read this book in high school.”
Theatre B’s showing of “1984” opened on Oct. 12 and will run until Oc.t 28 in their new venue at 215 10th Street N. in Moorhead. A Sunday matinee will be held on Oct 22. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling (701) 729-8880.