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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
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The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Warrior Culture

The most recent scenes in the Forest Roberts Theatre plunge the audience into a war zone. It is not the modern-day war zone that plays out daily on the television news, it is a war zone which takes to the high seas and involves cannonballs, sailors, redcoats and swashbuckling.

But modern-day trials and tribulations aren’t completely left at the door. While the female lead fights in the sea-based wars between England and France circa the mid-1700s, she is burdened by apocalyptic visions that are more fitting for our wars.

Shirley Gee’s “Warrior,” the second play in the theater’s 2007-2008 “Drop Everything” season sets sail Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee showing on Saturday at 1 p.m. The play is directed by Shelley Russell.

The story begins with Hannah Snell, played by Emily Couling, who decides to do some gender-bending in order to enlist in the British Navy. Her intent is to find her boyfriend, whom she envisioned dying at sea.

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She is accepted aboard a Navy ship with a rough-and-tumble crew, led by the no-nonsense Godbolt, played by Timmy Grams. Godbolt is a drill sergeant who whips Snell and other recent recruits into shape.

“When I play Godbolt, I think about my grandpa. He’s a Vietnam veteran,” Grams said. “He’s very stubborn and strong-willed like the character. When he’s got his mind set on something, he gets it done, no matter what.”

While aboard the ship, Snell has the twofold task of trying to keep her secret and trying to keep her visions under control. Her premonitions of future death and destruction are enough to make even the most battle-hardened crewmembers nervous.

“The role is very challenging. For one thing, Hannah never leaves the stage, which is really unusual for any lead character,” Couling said. “It’s also exhausting. I find the visions to be really challenging as well.”

Eventually, the scene shifts from immersion in war to the after-effects. The characters find that that they’ve outlived their purpose as warriors and that they must find new ways to support themselves.

Godbolt goes about this endeavor in the same way he commanded his ship. He barks at Snell and her friend, Billy Cuttle, played by David Lyon.

“Through the whole play Godbolt acts like a hardass, but at the same time he has feelings for Hannah,” Grams said.

Snell’s visions become more frequent and end up causing her to speak out against war. She sees weapons that are capable of destroying 500 cities at a time. Nobody wants to hear this and her inability to control these visions causes her to be assigned to a madhouse, where she is watched over by Scully, a creepy warden played by Ben Filipowicz, and his wife.

“He gets a kind of sick pleasure from the pain and anguish, both mental and physical, of all his inmates- but especially Hannah,” Filipowicz said.

He and the rest of society are willing to do anything they can to get Snell to stop speaking about her visions, viewing them as an affront to the king, Christianity and her country. She can’t subdue her message, however.

“I believe the play is about the power of nonviolence; the idea that war only creates more war, and that the human race’s tendency to delve into conflict will eventually wipe us out.”

Freshman undeclared major Troy Burns was part of the audience on Wednesday’s opening night, and said that it was a welcome break from classes.

“It’s different than a movie,” Burns said. “It’s more in tune with real human interaction. It makes me feel like I’m in the play.”

Filipiwicz had several more reasons that an audience might enjoy the production.

“The lights, the sets and the effects are fantastic. Firing muskets and cannons, explosions, sword fights, people swinging on ropes, people crawling about the stage, fog rolling about the stage – it’s wonderful.”

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