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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
Opinion Editor

My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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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

Surprising venue heightens experience

There is something inherent with curiosity to go to a show about the Near East when it is being produced in a predominantly Finnish community.

The cast of “The Near East” has accomplished something that, as a native “Yooper,” I did not expect to go over well in the Upper Peninsula.

With the themes and the culture we are shown, I have to applaud the cast for “The Near East,” a show that gives us a glimpse into a world, that in our culture, we know so little about.

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“The Near East” was shown in the James A. Panowski Black Box Theatre in McClintock instead of on the Forest Roberts Theatre stage which completely changed the dynamics of the play.

The show follows Jewish-American Ken Schnieder, played by Ryan Sitzberger, as he travels to meet a Doctor Aisha Ghazali.

Ghazali has asked him to help her on an expedition for something that could jeopardize her career and, ultimately, her life.

Some of the most heartfelt moments were the scenes when Ahmed, played by Luke Woolley, delivered some of the most emotional monologues in the play.

When Ahmed tells his story to Schneider, it is a touching moment of the play that had me and the audience captivated.

With his wonderful delivery of the character, I hope to see more of this newcomer in upcoming productions in the Forest Roberts Theatre.

Aisha, played by Taylor Kulju, is a strong-willed woman full of faith and determination to rise above the oppression of women in her country.

When she meets Ken Schneider and they start their expedition together, her faith is questioned and her walls start to come down, revealing more emotions as the two banter throughout the play.

This was one of my favorite roles to see Kulju play. The difficulty with the characters and the emotion of the play alone is tough for any actor to handle and Kulju does a magnificent job with this role.

The audience will immediately draw a connection to her and her journey in the play.

Every actor in the play was strong in his or her roles; from Michael Skrobeck’s portrayal of a Muslim struggling with both his faith and his sexuality, to James Porras II’s depiction of Michael Kennedy, a man who struggles with some of his deepest secrets in his business and personal life.

The relationships between the characters in the play are some of the most interesting things to observe.
The differences in relationships and character connections keep the audience captured and interested in seeing the development of these characters and their relationships.

It is hard to do a play that requires such awareness of a character’s inner-struggles with themselves and the people around them.

I applaud every member of the cast for their ability to develop as actors and depict such strong characters with the emotional toil it must take on them night after night.

When I walked into the theatre I was immediately taken into a different place with the set and pre-show music.

The multi-functional set has neutral, earthly colors with splashes of bold colors along the walls in a very intricate design.

The set, with minimal properties placed throughout, transports the audience to different scenes through the walls moving in different locations before your eyes.

The scene changes were almost like a dance in the play itself.

With so many scene changes, it would be easy for audience members to be taken out of the play and lose track of what is going on.

However, by each actor not breaking character throughout the scene changes and by having them run smoothly, it does not distract from the story.

The physical closeness between the audience and the actors makes the play much more intimate than if you were seeing it on the main stage.

I noticed audience members seemed more engaged with what was going on and felt more connected to the characters because of the close proximity.

I found myself feeling more like I was a part of the play because they were just a few feet away.

It is almost like you can feel the emotion, and it has a greater impact in such an intimate space like the Black Box Theatre.

Overall, this play is well worth seeing and students and community members alike would benefit from seeing this show. It gives you a new perspective on a world we know so little about.

I would recommend this show for anyone because you will walk away either learning something new about yourself or the world we live in.

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