NWC theatre presents African trilogy

“Arlene: An African Trilogy,” the story of Sioux Center resident Arlene Schuiteman’s ministry in Sudan, Ethiopia and Zambia, will be presented by Northwestern College theatre April 11, 12 and 24–27 in the England Theatre.

The Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, performances begin at 2 p.m. and include an African-themed meal, served between acts. All tickets for these afternoon dinner-and-theatre performances are $15 and must be reserved and prepaid by visiting www.nwciowa.edu/calendar/events/15156/arlene-an-african-trilogy or contacting the box office (712-707-7098 or boxoffice@nwciowa.edu).

The curtain rises at 6 p.m. on April 11, 24 and 25 and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. Tickets for these evening performances are $7 for adults and $4 for students. Reservations and payment can be made online or by contacting the box office.

Guests also can make reservations by visiting the box office, which is open between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“Arlene: An African Trilogy” was written by Northwestern theatre professor Jeff Barker in collaboration with Schuiteman, who retired to Sioux Center in 1988. The trilogy intertwines three dramas previously scripted by Barker: “Sioux Center Sudan,” “Iowa Ethiopia” and “Zambia Home.”

The separate dramas have been performed by the college’s touring theatre company, the Drama Ministries Ensemble, across the U.S. and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2012, a trip that included the octogenarian Schuiteman.

The new drama starts with Schuiteman’s calling in the 1950s to leave an Iowa school teaching position and become a nurse missionary in Africa. She practiced nursing in the Sudan before being thrown out of the country in 1963, just as civil war began there.

She traveled next to Ethiopia, where she helped open a “dresser school” in the city of Mettu, teaching wound care and other medical skills to healthcare workers. While there, the country experienced a spiritual revival that resulted in some surprising gifts of the Holy Spirit in Schuiteman’s own life.

Schuiteman concluded her African ministry in Zambia in the 1970s and ’80s, witnessing the devastating consequences of malaria and AIDS in Africa. She worked with renowned physicians Dr. Phil Thuma—who helped to eradicate malaria in the Macha region—and Dr. John Spurrier, who has devoted his career to fighting AIDS in Zambia.

Taken together, the chapters of Schuiteman’s ministry in Africa form a compelling story about God’s healing work in the lives of his children around the world and about finding home wherever God leads you.

“Arlene: An African Trilogy” is being directed by NWC theatre professor Karen Bohm Barker. Christa Curl, a senior math major from Braman, Okla., will play Arlene. Another seven cast members all have multiple roles.