‘Off the Map’ takes a look at rural townsIt’s a play; it’s a documentary; it’s a play with video, it’s “Off the Map.” This new work by Grand Forks playwright Kathy Coudle-King is coming to a town near you this summer. The play gives voice to just a selection of the people Coudle-King interviewed as she shot a documentary in approximately 50 small towns across North Dakota, from 2010-2011.
It’s a play; it’s a documentary; it’s a play with video, it’s “Off the Map.”
This new work by Grand Forks playwright Kathy Coudle-King is coming to a town near you this summer. The play gives voice to just a selection of the people Coudle-King interviewed as she shot a documentary in approximately 50 small towns across North Dakota, from 2010-2011.
Coudle-King was awarded a Bush Dakota Creative Creations Grant in 2009 to expand a one-act play she’d written, “Ghost Town,” about dying towns in North Dakota.
But as she went in search of people who could speak to this issue, she found a much different story.
”North Dakotans tend to be a positive bunch of people,” she said. “They don’t dwell on the negative or they’d never get through winter. People began sending me to places where small towns were making creative efforts to keep their town going. One person would tell me about a candy store I had to visit. Another would tell me about a creamery where I just had to have the ice cream. So, I went on a hunt to find out what small towns are doing to stem out-migration and/or bring people to them, and I discovered a tenacious, creative lot of people whose stories need to be shared.”
Characters in the play are based on composites of people from Olga, Ruso, Buffalo, Hazelton, Crosby, Ashley, Stanley, Tuttle, Beach and elsewhere.
“The play will take you across the state of North Dakota and you won’t even burn a tank of gas,” said Cherie Johnson, an actress from Hatton, N.D.
The playwright is using shots of the landscape to create a digital backdrop for the play. This also adds to the portability of the show.
“Off the Map” involves eight actors performing 23 roles. The play is a series of monologues and short scenes derived from the interviews conducted in towns such as Hazelton, Tuttle, Crosby, Beach, Olga, Richardton, Rollette and Stanley.
Some of the people profiled in the play are a mapmaker from the North Dakota Department of Transportation, quilters, two mayors, one state senator, a nun, an oil worker, a farmer, a taxidermist and a potter.
“Off the Map” stars Johnson, Joy Vaagene, Donna Stewart, Gary Lilimoen (all of Hatton), Ryan King, Kathy Coudle-King and Patrick Pearson (Grand Forks), and Erin Hendrickson (Manvel). The cast will be making a stop in Hatton at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Community Center.
Other locations and dates are: 7 p.m. Friday in Hazelton at the high school; Stanley, 7 p.m. June 9 at The Sibyl Center; and Crosby, 1:30 p.m. at the Dakota Theatre, with additional performances at 7:30 p.m. in Grand Forks on July 12-13 at the Fire Hall Theatre.
There is a suggested ticket donation that can be made at the door before performances in Hatton, Hazelton and Stanley. Call 701-965-6088 to reserve seats in Crosby.
This production is made possible through the generosity of the North Dakota Humanities Council, The North Dakota Council on the Arts and the University of North Dakota. It is a Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre production and questions can be directed to email@example.com or by calling 701-746-0847.