“Talking With” – Eleven stories that “mark” the audience

by Alice King – Horizon Features Editor & Kendra Burkey – Horizon Advisor

The Hesston College theater department presented “Talking With…,” a play by Jane Martin this weekend. Directed by bible and ministry professor Michele Hershberger, the play was presented as a fundraiser for Hershberger’s daughter Erin who will spend a year working at a medical clinic in Honduras along with her friend, Anne Simonsick. The play featured six Hesston College faculty and staff members as 11 incredible women who, as Hershberger wrote in her director’s notes,  “experienced a marking – a loss, a surprise, a challenge” and who share those marks through 11 monologues.

Heidi Hochstetler, director of the Hesston ACCESS lab and English faculty, as a Broadway musical actress.

  • Lessons Learned: “We all have insecurities or feel like a fraud, no matter how skilled we are at hiding it. It always feels better to see the true faces of those around us and to acknowledge our similar doubts and fears.”
  • Lines to live by: “I do a little lacerating self exposure, they do a little lacerating self exposure and afterwards, who knows? Maybe we get together for a drink.”

Laura Kraybill, theater faculty, as a housewife who secretly spends her days as “Scrap,” a character from “The Wizard of Oz,” an aspiring actress with a troubling audition strategy, and a snake handler

  • Lessons Learned: “We often go to ridiculous or harmful lengths to receive approval when we are feeling insecure.”
  • Lines to Live By: “Hell, you can live your whole life without having to subtract!”

Michele Hershberger, bible and ministry faculty, as a daughter who deals with the death of her mother, an older lady who finds enjoyment in lamps, and a “retired” bull rider.

  • Lessons Learned: “Two of my characters deal with the reality of death. From both of them I have learned the value of holding each day, each memory, every little thing with deep gratitude. This gratitude makes the day longer.”
  • Lines to Live By: “Hell, tobacco wasn’t made to smoke, honey, it was made to chew. Lord wanted ya filled up with smoke he would’ve set ya on fire.”

Margaret Weibe, library director, as an odd character who loves McDonald’s and plastic.

  • Lessons Learned: “My character is either homeless or in a very dire circumstances which are bad enough to make her want to live in a McDonald’s. It gives me pause to remember and be thankful for the many little things that I have that make my life very comfortable while there are women in this world that have very, very little; if anything.”
  • Lines to Live By: “Well, God gave us the idea of plastic so we’d know what the everlasting really was. See, if there’s plastic, then there’s surely eternity.”

Rachel Jantzi, communications and theater faculty, as a woman who is stuck in her past as a baton twirler but is no longer able to twirl due to an injury and a woman who survived a divorce, searches for herself and becomes “marked” by the world (literally).

  • Lessons Learned: “On the surface we are all a little quirky. When we dig deeper it’s discovered we are much more complex and more wonderfully wacky than we care to let it show…and isn’t that a shame?”
  • Lines to Live By:  “She saw the Lord God Jesus and His hair was all rhinestones and He was singing this beautiful song like the sound of a piccolo.”

Bethany Miller, admissions counselor, as a woman about to give birth to what she believes will be a dragon baby.

  • Lessons Learned: “I love how my character still finds those moments of humor even in the midst of physical and emotional pain. She’s laboring all by herself and she’s scared yet she’s still so strong, not letting the doctors or anyone bully her into giving up her child.”
  • Lines to Live By:  “Let me love this child, for all beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

If you’d like to support Erin and Anne you can write a check to Hesston Mennonite Church with this note in the memo line: “Mission to Honduras.” Donations can be dropped off at HMC or at Michele Hershberger’s office in Kropf Center.

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