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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.

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North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Senior capstone project features one-man theatre production

Forest Roberts Theatre will be invoking the spirit of the holidays with “Santaland Diaries,” a play based on an essay by David Sedaris, on Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8.

“Santaland Diaries” is a story seen through a somewhat atypical viewpoint when it comes to Christmas stories, said director of theatre Ansley Valentine.

“The play, which is based on Sedaris’ essay of the same name, is sort of a backstage look at when [Sedaris] worked as an elf at Macy’s during the holiday season,” Valentine said.

The play is also the capstone project of senior theatre major Jacob Barbot, Valentine said, something all theatre students must complete prior to graduation.

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While most seniors in the theatre department direct aone-act play for their capstone project, Barbot said he was interested in doing something different.

“I approached my professors asking if I could do some sort of acting piece as my capstone, since I intend to graduate and work preferably as an actor” Barbot said. “We discussed the option of doing a variety of scenes or a one-man show.”

As Barbot and his instructors mulled over the possibilities, Barbot became increasingly interested in the idea of a one-man production.

“Having a cast of one became a practical idea,” Barbot said. “Great self-exploration of expression, opportune practice doing monologues, which are essential to get a job, and not having to work around the schedule of others.”

The essay by Sedaris came up in conversation, Barbot said, as he had heard the essay read by the author on NPR over the last few Christmases and loved the material.

“The play is often used as a season show and an alternative to other plays,” Barbot said. “On top of that, this show seemed ideal for my own personal disposition towards Christmas, and I hope it draws out a good student audience as well.”

Preparing for the production has been tiring and nerve-wracking, Barbot said. The rehearsals alone require an hour-and-half performance without much of a break.

“For the first few weeks, I rehearsed alone and it became disheartening to be in such a quiet empty room,” Barbot said. “‘Is this even funny?’ I thought.”

With the help of professors and feedback from friends, Barbot said he feels confident the show will go well.

The “Santaland Diaries” will also mark the first time that the Forest Roberts Theatre has held late night performances, with a 7:30 p.m. show on Friday, and an 11 p.m. showing on both nights.

“We’ll have two late performances, which we haven’t done before,” Valentine said. “We’re hoping that might be more appealing to the students, who can still go out and then come later for the show.”

All performances of “Santaland Diaries” will be held at the Forest Roberts Theatre and tickets are $5. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nmu.edu/tickets.

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