Sep 28, 2022

Dordt’s theatre arts program receives prestigious grant

Dordt University’s Theatre Arts Department has received a prestigious Gilchrist Foundation grant to support a theatre workshop and guest performance by esteemed actor and Dordt alumnus Jason Vande Brake in the spring 2023 production of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

Professor of Theatre Arts Laurel Koerner and Vande Brake will take on the lead roles in the show, with students working alongside them in other roles and as acting apprentices.

“Having faculty and professionals participate in this way is, we believe, unprecedented for Dordt and incredibly valuable,” says Koerner. “This production also brings two ‘homegrown’ artists together to offer an exceptional experience for the local community, as I am from Sanborn and Jason is from Sheldon.”

The Gilchrist Foundation’s micro-grants are a valuable catalyst for creative activity in Siouxland, adds Koerner.

With more than 25 years of experience, Vande Brake is a Los Angeles-based voice actor who holds an MFA in acting from University of California-Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. He has performed on stage at Berkeley Rep, the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C., the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, numerous festivals, and many more places.

“Jason’s experience is an exemplary illustration of the theatre program’s vital role in enabling students to become creatives, leaders, and entrepreneurs,” says Koerner. “He’s built a career in voiceover and built a business with his wife, Amanda. He’s a great actor. It’s wonderful to be able to bring an alumnus back to make good art and benefit our students and the broader community.”

One of the workshops Vande Brake will offer will be open to the public. He will share insights into the art and business of voiceover, providing a behind-the-scenes look at this particular dimension of acting. Details regarding the event are forthcoming.

Koerner is also excited to return to the stage in A Doll’s House. Trained as an actor, Koerner earned her MFA in acting from California Institute of the Arts, a prestigious arts conservatory. She also holds an MA in Theatre History and Performance Theory from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“I love teaching actors and certainly call upon my training in the classroom and as I direct productions, but those are distinct roles that don’t leave much time for me to practice my primary discipline,” she says. “It’s going to be a special experience to do this work alongside my students and teach through modeling. It will require me to think differently about my own process in a refreshing way. Jason’s partnership and presence as a guest artist will no doubt be a memorable experience for all involved.”

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education,, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

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