An evening of groundbreaking theatre in the great outdoors

check out the first ever Patchwork Theatre Arts Festival on Muhlenberg's campus

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The cast of "The Little Prince" performing as a part of Patchwork Theatre Festival. Photo courtesy of Shira Holtz '24.

On Fri. Apr. 14, “This Random World” opened the Patchwork Theatre Festival, a brand new, independent, completely student-produced theatre festival at Muhlenberg. The festival features three productions, “This Random World,” “The Little Prince” and “Constellations.

“Patchwork Theatre Festival came about because we are a group of theatre-makers who wanted to expand student theatre opportunities and try our hand at self-producing. We have pulled together this festival without a budget. We truly started with nothing but the idea for a play festival just a few short months ago, some of us not knowing each other prior but pulled together over a common goal,” remarked Alison Rutyna ‘23, who directed “Constellations” and was part of the team of coordinators.

“Each director picked their own show, and they all have their own connections to the shows that they picked. We had exactly one meeting last semester and after deciding we were going to do a festival and tossing tentative show ideas out there, we were discussing how the shows themselves don’t quite fit one theme but we’re doing all of them under collective ideas: creating art for the sake of art and creating more opportunities on campus. I was the one to suggest the name of Patchwork because what we were talking about reminded me of a patchwork quilt; the patches may look different but they all come together to make one beautiful thing,” said Shira Holtz ‘24, associate director of “The Little Prince” and another festival coordinator.

The coordinators succeeded in their goal, giving more than 30 students the opportunity to participate in creating art independently of any established organization on campus. “I think Patchwork amplifies the opportunities for upper-class students to pursue student-produced work which is an incredible process as it allows for folks to exercise what they’re learning and continue to learn as artists by working independently,” shared Hannah Verdun ‘24, one of the actors in “Constellations.” The Patchwork productions were particularly noteworthy due to the lack of faculty involvement and sponsorship, giving those involved a great learning experience as far as building theatre from the ground up.

“Patchwork is so meaningful because it really proves that we can all make our own opportunities. It’s students that feel passionate about making theatre. I think it’s extremely important for people to realize that you don’t just have to wait for an opportunity to find you, you really can go out and make it happen if you have the drive. That’s what Patchwork is to me, it’s people working to make their dreams a reality,” remarked Irene Keeney ‘23, another actor in “Constellations.

“That’s what Patchwork is to me, it’s people working to make their dreams a reality.”

-Irene Keeney ’23

“This isn’t my first time self-producing on campus. It’s actually my third time and each time, what I have found is you find your people who support you and it’s difficult, but you push through, roll with the punches and you come out a better artist for it. And in a larger sense, I am a huge fan of combatting the stereotype that you have to be a starving artist waiting tables in New York City until someone gives you your big break. What I think Patchwork is trying to do is test the theory that if you are waiting for an opportunity, just make one and you will figure it out. Definitely easier said than done, but if you break it down step by step, you accomplish step one, then two, then three and eventually you have done it!” said Hayley Arnold ‘23, “This Random World” director and festival coordinator.

As the Patchwork Festival concludes its first weekend, one of its productions, “The Little Prince,” has already closed.  

“For me, getting the chance to explore theater in a super creative setting with such extremely talented and kind people really brought ‘The Little Prince’s’ message of imagination, innocence and connection to the stage (or amphitheater/rehearsal hall) in a very full circle way. I’m so endlessly grateful for Patchwork and the opportunity to work on this piece with this team!” reflected Mattea Pappa ‘26, a “The Little Prince” cast member.

“Both of our performances and the fact that people really showed up and gave the festival and everyone involved so much love was mind-blowing. We even got a couple of YikYaks about the festival this weekend, and as we know, YikYak is the highest form of theatre criticism. But in all seriousness, it’s amazing that we created something that ended up meaning something to this campus,” said Maddy Burk ‘23, director of “The Little Prince” and another festival coordinator.

Their audience agreed with this sentiment. “I thought ‘The Little Prince’ was great! I read it in French class in high school and it was really cool seeing the story come to life! The ensemble created an ambient sound that enhanced the [viewing] experience. It helped transport the audience into the world of the play.” said Lindsay Batzar ‘26, about her audience experience.
“Seeing the Patchwork shows was illuminating. I felt surrounded by the love the actors had put into the shows. They were there to tell a story that they had grown to know and adore over the past through months and it was amazing to see them perform and share that adoration with the audience,” remarked Michaela Zahner, ‘24.

Patchwork Theatre Festival has one more weekend, where you can see ‘Constellations’ and ‘This Random World.’ 

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