“The Frogs” performs on Vivian Fusillo Stage


Natalie Tyler

Sophomore Erebi Nyenkan portrays President Lincoln during a dress rehearsal of the spring play “The Frogs” on Tuesday, April 9. “The Frogs” showed April 10-13 at the Vivian Fusillo Theater in the DuFresne Performing Arts Center. The play blamed President Trump for ruining society and character Dionysus was determined to find President Nixon to save the world.

Hannah Hippensteel, Features Reporter

A typical Greek play like “The Frogs” by Aristophanes is meant to be an artful critique of everyday life. Winona State University Theater Director Jim Williams, chair person and associate professor of the Theatre and Dance department adapted the script to be a critical look at President Donald Trump and his administration.

“This show is a work of devised theater which means the students improvise lines as they go along. It allows the show to be more contemporary,” Williams said.

Williams compared the comedy to skits seen on Saturday Night Live or jokes in Monty Python movies.

In terms of how “The Frogs” differs from other Winona State performances, Williams said the run-time is about 50 minutes and involves video and sound projections for storytelling effects.

A big part of “The Frogs” is how Tracy Van Voorst executes Williams’ creative choices into the costumes. Van Voorst’s interest in costumes has spanned most of her life, but she has held her position as costumer at Winona State since 2010. Van Voorst said working on “The Frogs” in the costume shop has provided her with an abundance of inspiration.

“The 24-hour news cycle means that changes can and have been made in the middle of current events to make the humor relevant,” Van Voorst said.

Hannah Angle, a sophomore communications major, plays Xanthias, the reluctant servant of Dionysus.

Angle’s character spends much of her time clad in a Jimmy Buffet-esque parrot head and Hawaiian shirt outfit, following her boss around and carrying political “baggage.” Xanthias’ boss, Dionysus, who is the god of wine, spends most of the show covered in wine glass patterned clothes, dripping in fake grapes, and rocking the ever-stylish socks and Crocs look.

Angle said her favorite part of “The Frogs” was portraying a character with so much energy and what people could learn from seeing the production.

“People can learn how different and interesting live theater is—we have a crazy set, costumes and makeup that the audience sees come together right in front of them,” Angle said.

Van Voorst said her favorite part about the productions was how all the elements came together in a way that made cool art.

Williams’ mention of sound and video projections shows up as the beginning of “The Frogs” with Trump’s commentary taken from interviews and press statements.

Dionysus and Xanthias encounter people along the way as they embark on their journey to Hades in search of a president to replace Trump. As customary in Greek plays, a chorus provides commentary on the events as they happen.

In this production, the chorus portrays the Washington press core and dons Kermit the Frog hats and press passes, as well as initiates in the form of pantsuit-wearing, female freshmen of the 2018 Congress.

Van Voorst said the Kermit hats are meant to be a nod to the “pussy power” hats worn by many people during recent women’s marches.

The journey to Hades continues with a nod to one of Trump’s biggest proposals yet: the wall.

The song “Nothing Like a Wall,” with lyrics credited to Randy Rainbow, pokes fun at Trump’s hopes to unite the country with a barrier at the border for immigration.

When Dionysus and Xanthias arrive to Hades, a debate ensues about which president, Lincoln or Nixon, should return to save us from Trump.

The scale of justice is depicted with a see-saw as each debate candidate shares their agenda.

Ultimately, one candidate comes out victorious and has the country’s hopes placed in their hands.

The play ends with comments from the chorus and attempts to leave the audience with a feeling that maybe not all hope is lost.

Political commentary and comedy is interwoven into “The Frogs” to make the show a short yet highly entertaining critique of our presidential administration.