“For Janna,” by Northwestern College junior Alex Wendel, Charles City, Iowa, has been selected by Boston writer Jeffrey Sweet for performance during Northwestern’s 18th annual World Premiere Festival, which showcases student-authored scripts.
The full-length play will be performed in the Allen Black Box Theatre March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. The show is free; seating is first-come, first-served.
Senior Ali Sondreal, Huron, S.D., is directing the drama based on stories Wendel’s German grandmother told him about growing up in Berlin during World War II. Her flashbacks, narrated by an older Janna and enacted by preteen Janna and her family, give the audience a glimpse of a wartime childhood—when families huddled in bomb shelters and starving children hawking cigarettes are part of daily life.
In choosing “For Janna,” Sweet called the main character’s journey “epic” and said, “[her] evolution … from an unquestioning participant in Hitler’s Germany to the wife of an American kept me turning pages.” Sweet has written numerous plays and scripts that have been produced around the U.S. He also is the author of two books on playwriting, including “The Dramatist’s Toolkit.”
The character of Janna at different ages is being played by Katie Shepard, Des Moines, and Jana Latchaw, Oskaloosa, Iowa. Janna’s family members are being played by Abby Bierly, Hull; Jacob Christiansen, Omaha; Tiemen Godwaldt, Mishawaka, Ind.; Kaleigh Schildhouse, Sioux Center; Kyle TenHulzen, Firth, Neb.; and Emily Wohlers, Denison, Iowa.