Dokken enjoys return to Summer Theatre

“It means the world to me. Summer theatre to me, is family.”
Bradley Dokken on his return to summer theatre

MINOT, N.D. – When Bradley Dokken attended a Minot Summer Theatre production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner” in 1994, he was a recent high school graduate visiting the campus he would call home for the next four years. 

That night the Crosby, N.D., native decided that he would follow in the footsteps of the performers he saw on stage and chose to major in theatre when he started classes that fall.

Fast forward to 2018, the once aspiring performer, now produced playwright, is seeing his own play, “One Strange Night,” performed on the hill at Minot Summer Theatre.

“It means the world to me,” Dokken said. “Summer theatre to me, is family.”

Dokken’s return to the Minot stage was anything but a straight trajectory.  He switched his major from theatre to elementary education at Minot State, and while he continued to take classes and work in the theatre department, he chose to leave the stage behind after he graduated in 1999. 

Dokken went on to work as a youth and education worker for First Lutheran church in Watford City, N.D. The absence of theatre in his life left a void he could no longer overlook and he began writing and acting with a community theatre.

Inspired by a playwriting class he had taken at Minot State under the tutelage of Conrad Davidson, Dokken began writing a farcical play. By 2007, Dokken had written a working draft of “One Strange Night.”

The play is filled with twists and turns, as circumstances drive the characters to undertake absurd actions.

Dokken, a self-described child of the 1980s, points to classic television fare like “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners,” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” as his inspiration.

“Television was my babysitter,” Dokken observed of his formative years.

With a working draft of his new play in hand, Dokken reached out to his former theatre professor, Kevin Neuharth for a cold reading — an unstaged reading of a play with actors.

Neuharth mobilized a group of his students and Dokken was able to hear his play out loud.

“I received some very honest feedback, and that experience shaped what the play has become,” he said.

Months later Dokken shelved his labor of hilarity and attended seminary. It would be another four years before Dokken would return to it.

“I need to figure out how to be a more consistent writer, or give it up altogether,” Dokken joked as he described his play as being “over 10-years in the making, but not really,” given life’s interruptions.

“One Strange Night” received its world premiere at the Grand Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wis., in April.

Now, months later, Dokken will see his play performed on the stage where he watched “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” 24 years earlier.

Dokken’s return to Minot underscores all that is great about the tradition of summer theatre — family, entertainment, community — and for Dokken, a place where dreams become fully realized.  

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 07/08/18   

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