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History weaves a multilayered premiere debut

"100 Years of Normal" is a celebration of one family's history, and their connection to Minot State University. Spanning 100 years, this multi-media production directed by Carlen Gilseth, assistant professor, weaves various dynamics of theatre with narrative and dramatic storytelling. Actors share the stage with projected images, music and radio broadcasts in this play based on the real-life experiences of the Knutson family's emigration from Norway to eventually settling in Minot.

"This really is a universal story steeped in history," Gilseth said. "It shows the common thread of human experience that we share in Minot and at MSU. We can feel with our hearts what this family experienced, and throughout the years, how MSU has been a part of things."

"100 Years of Normal" is based on "Mostly about Mama," a book written by Gilseth's aunt, Elna Knutson-Knox. Although the play is the historical experience of one family, this could be anyone's story. This sentiment is only one of the many common threads that inspire this adaption by MSU creative writing instructor Nicole Thom-Arens.

"As a gift to her mother, Carlen's grandmother, Elna Knutson-Knox wrote a book," Thom-Arens said. "That was part of my inspiration. I had never written a play before, and it was a challenge to piece together the family experiences from the book and other journals covering 100 years. However, there was this underlying theme of tradition and the passing on of tradition that gave these stories a relate-ability to the values and traditions of MSU."

Minot State University plays an important role within the play, shared between generations. Both Gilseth and Thom-Arens agree, from elementary education at Minot Normal School, to teacher's certification and officer's training at Minot State Teachers College and current studies at MSU, the university continues to affect the community in many ways.

"100 Years of Normal" will be making its premiere debut on stage at MSU's Aleshire Theater, Oct. 15 - 19, at 7:30 p.m. A discussion with the writers and director will follow Thursday's performance.

For tickets, contact the Aleshire Theater box office at 858-3172.