‘Terra Nova’ to bring gripping drama to Malcolm Field Theatre

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Beginning Feb. 24, the Saginaw Valley Sheatre department will be bringing Ted Tally’s “Terra Nova” to the stage.

“Terra Nova” follows the treks of two competing voyagers, Ronald Amundsen and Robert Scott, in their race to the South Pole during the winter of 1911-1912. The play will be a mixture of realism and fantasy, giving a unique spin on the retelling of the historical event.

“Specifically with this play, it chronicles the difficulties that the Scott expedition had,” said director and theatre professor Steven Erickson. “There’s some comedy in it at points, but, for the most part, it’s just a real serious look at how this entire fiasco happened.”

According to Erickson, the somber nature of this production has made for a challenging directing experience.

“It’s a really difficult play, because there’s so much suffering in it,” Erickson said.

However, despite the trials that come with performing such a solemn production, the actors involved are very interested in the material and are taking the challenges in stride.

“The fun thing about it is that (the actors) are all being really cohesive together … It’s really kind of interesting to see how they work together now that the set is up and the lights are on and ready to go,” Erickson said.

The cast, consisting of seven people, began with their rehearsing just before the holiday break. The creation of the production’s set also began around that time. Overall, with the costs of the set and the salaries of the few paid workers for the play, “Terra Nova” kept within a budget of $2,700.

The theatre department has had “Terra Nova” planned since early 2015. The dramatic plot of “Terra Nova” will give contrast to the comedy “The Games Afoot,” which was performed in Malcolm Field Theatre this past fall. According to Erickson, that was all by design.

“Each of the directors, there’s three of us, we submit (plays) to the department chair, and we try to round out a season that has a lot of variety,” Erickson said.

The anticipated audience for “Terra Nova” is around 1,400 to 1,600 people spread out across the five days the play will be performed. The crowds that are drawn in will include not only Saginaw Valley students, but also members of the local community due to the advertising of the production in surrounding areas. In some instances, Saginaw Valley also uses its plays as an outreach to local schools.

“We’ve started … inviting schools — high schools, primarily — when appropriate, and we just give them free tickets if they want to come see a show,” Erickson said. “We’ve had about five different schools that took advantage of that, because a lot of times, teachers would like to bring (students), especially … something historical like this one.”

The production dates and times for “Terra Nova” are Feb. 24 to 27 at 7 p.m., and a matinee performance Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $13 for general admission and $10 for seniors and students.

The performance has a running time of two hours and 20 minutes, and has a recommended age of 16 years or older.