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University student produces, presents ‘House of Yes’

December 10, 2009

With a cast of five, a student-based production team and director, the Masquers Club is presenting “House of Yes” in the Kleinpell Fine Arts building at UW-River Falls.

Unlike “Urinetown,” the University’s musical production earlier this year, “House of Yes” is a single act play put on entirely by students.  Rachel Hafele, a theatre major, Masquers Club member and senior at the University, serves as the production’s director.

The Masquers Club is a student-based theatre organization on campus. Every year, it puts on one student produced show. Members of the Masquers Club have the opportunity to present an idea and then members discuss the ideas and decide which show to perform.

“Ever since I started school at UWRF in 2006, I have wanted to bring this show to the main stage,” Hafele said. “I’m so excited. I’ve loved this show for so long and now finally getting to do this and put it on my resume is really exciting for me.”

“House of Yes,” is a play originally produced in 1997 by Wendy MacLeod. The story’s plot is about a mentally unbalanced woman who flips into a murderous rage when her brother returns home to reveal his engagement.

Hafele chose the entire cast, which is made up of five characters, with the help of her production team.

“With a small cast it can be hard. You feel like you need to do a better job because there’s only a small number of people that you can rely on,” actor Beth Van Kampen, who plays Lesly, said. “You need to work extra hard to make the show great.”

The cast and crew were all very close from the beginning, which presented challenges at times, according to Van Kampen.

“Rachel is one of my friends and the entire cast is friends, so it’s interesting going from a friend environment to a theatre environment,” she said. “It can be challenging with such a close cast because you
feel like sometimes you can’t be completely honest because you don’t want to ruin friendships.”

The play includes adult content such as sexual references and dirty humor, giving it a very different feel than “Urinetown,” according to Stage Manager Karen Biedermann.

“[‘House of Yes’] is definitely geared towards adults. There is some adult content that would be inappropriate for children,” she said. “If you can keep an open mind and realize this is just a play, I think anyone can enjoy it.”

Laura Kehl, a student at the University, said she kept an open mind while watching the play.

“A friend of mine who had seen the play gave me a feel of what it was about and so I knew I’d be keeping an open mind when going into it,” she said. “I definitely enjoyed it though. I didn’t think it was inappropriate compared to most other things you see. I thought it was actually very funny and well put together.”

The play deals with family dysfunctions with a sense of craziness added into it. When a member from outside the home enters, she invites the craziness to take a part of her.

“I think that if I really entered this house, I would have run away screaming,” Van Kampen said. “But families are always dysfunctional in one way or another.”

Biedermann, who was also in the cast of “Urinetown,” discussed the advantages of a small production, explaining the experience she has now gained.

“I think for production team this has been a lot more of a growing experience,” she said. “For me it has really been a growing experience and a good way to learn how to become a leader.”

Because of a later start to this school year, the production team had only four weeks to put the show together. Typically, they have five to six weeks of preparation.

“It has been busy and stressful, but a lot of fun,” Hafele said. “I was nervous about it at first, but honestly we probably were ready about a week ago.”

With finals week approaching, Beidermann said she found the play more helpful than stressful.

“’House of Yes’ has definitely been a stress reliever,” she said. “It’s nice not to think about class and exams, and just focus on this.”

Overall the experience was memorable and educational, according to Van Kampen, Hafele and Biedermann.

“With this show, since we’re all students, it felt like a family environment. That’s not something you usually feel, and it was nice because we were very close to each other and it was nice to have that
family feeling,” Hafele said. “You usually have that within the cast but to have that with your director and production team as well is a huge thing.”

The show opened last weekend and continues Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting each night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.