Wenonah Players: persevering through performance


Gabriel Hathaway

Louisa Schirmackcher and Kailey Doeseckle performing “Man or Muppet“ for their first ever talent show.

Gabriel Hathaway, Editor-In-Chief

Here is a little-known fact: the Wenonah Players is the oldest club at Winona State University. Now if you are already in the Theatre and Dance Department this may not be news, but what is interesting is how the club leans on this legacy to revitalize itself after COVID-19.

Wenonah Players is, of course, Winona State University’s theatre club. This club is open to any students interested in theatre and the performing arts. The Wenonah Players is involved with the Theatre and Dance Department, hosts their own shows and is generally the place for people interested in theatre to talk, connect and perform.

Sanorah Goldoff, third-year student and current Wenonah Players president, emphasized that her main goal is to make the club engaging and exciting to be a part of.

Part of this is what Eli Anderson, third-year student and Wenonah Players Event Coordinator, called “ensemble building”. 

“You try to create this community where you still are talking to these people, these co-actors, these other people for years to come,” Anderson said. “Coming to college it is no different, they almost focus on it more. That team building and creating a sense of a community in a safe place is a really important part. And we are trying to include that in Players, creating an ensemble within ourselves.”

Goldoff and Anderson both joined Wenonah Players in 2020 and share the goal of bringing the club back to its former glory. 

“COVID hit everybody hard. The arts really struggled because everything we do is in person,” Anderson said.  

One thing Anderson mentioned was looking back at what previously worked for the Wenonah Players and implementing it again.

“We’ve tried to dig through the records to see what we were like. It’s almost like…discovering about your parents, like discovering your parents’ history,” Anderson said. “…And so we’re looking back at what they would do in the 90s and early 2000s, and we would see, we would say, ‘Okay, well, here’s what they would do. This was a good idea. We should come back to this, we should try and circle back’.”   

The Wenonah Players’ most memorable event is most likely their 24-Hour Theatre shows that they host every other year. Like the name would imply, the club meets on a Friday evening and has 24 hours to write, cast and rehearse a production before their performance the following evening. Goldoff commented on last year’s 24-Hour Theatre show.

“We had a lot more people than we were expecting last year, which was really, really amazing actually. We ran out of seats, like people had to stand in the back. It was very impressive. I was like, ‘Why are there so many people here? Like this isn’t going to be that good. We made all this in 24 hours!’” Goldoff said.

This year, the Wenonah Players hosted their first-ever talent show on Saturday, March 25. The show included musical performances, impressions and a monologue. Goldoff and Anderson hope to make this a recurring yearly event for years with no 24-Hour Theatre.

Goldoff commented on what she appreciates about theatre.

“I think like live theater is just so important to go see. It’s something where you can go and kinda like shut off your brain from the rest of the world for, I don’t know, two hours and just kind of engage yourself in this alternate world with these alternate characters,” Goldoff said. “And you might empathize with them, and you might be inspired by these characters.”

Wenonah Players meet every other Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Green Room in the DuFresne Performing Arts Center, with their next meeting scheduled for April 11. At a typical meeting, the Wenonah Players cover a variety of topics such as improv, dance, theater tech, workshopping, theatre announcements and abstractions.

Anderson commented how abstractions bring out his favorite part of theatre, the freedom and judgment environment. 

“And so you get to this point with abstractions where you’re just like, ‘Screw it, I’m going to walk like a chicken now.’ It’s just, that’s, that’s probably one of my favorite parts about theatre, is it’s just once you hit this moment of these people who really don’t, like aren’t judging me. These people really aren’t here to say, ‘Oh, look at what he’s doing. This guy is doing it weird,’ It’s all about personal discovery. That’s one thing that I really like about theatre and about doing this,” Anderson said. 

Anderson emphasized his gratitude to the Wenonah Players’ advisors and to staff and faculty in the Theatre and Dance Department for all of their support and help with the club.