January 11, 2017
Writer: Phillip Price
The Theatre Department's stage reading of The Crone's Revenge signified a special moment in the lives of former faculty member J. Omar Hansen and his students. Hansen's former students performed the play he wrote to honor Hansen as he retires after 20 years of teaching.
"It has always been the students who gave me the greatest joy," Hansen said.
Through the play, students reflected on the growth and learning they have received because of Hansen's love, respect, and service to students in the department.
"Brother Hansen taught me how to analyze works of literature and see the vision behind a play," said student Rachel Lines, the director of the play. "He is fun to have as a director because he lets me explore as an actor and come up with my own ideas."
Intrigued with colonial life, Virginia, witchcraft, and telling stories, Hansen wrote The Crone's Revenge as a comedy stage reading using only six actors who each play multiple roles. It tells the story of a proper young English woman, Katherine Grady, who overcomes obstacles while finding true love in 18th century Virginia.
Both Hansen and his students displayed their capability to adapt to unforeseen challenges during the production.
On the day of the performance, one of the cast members who was pregnant, unexpectedly went into labor. The delivery prevented both her and her husband from performing their roles in the play. The cast was required to hold an emergency rehearsal and pull two other students, including the stage manager, to assume the roles of the missing actors.
Hansen acknowledges the effort his students took to ensure the show "went on" no matter the challenges.
"Particularly on this production of The Crone's Revenge, the students were such a joy to work with," Hansen said. "That is the caliber of students you get at BYU-Idaho. They are responsible and hardworking."
The students that played a part on and off the stage put their hearts into their work because they say they learned that is what is expected of them.
"We learned from Brother Hansen that if there is something that doesn't feel right, you need to stand up, you need to say something, you need to make a difference," said student Madelynn Beech, the stage manager of the play. "A lot of people took that to heart and started doing wonderful things with leadership in theater councils."
Beech says she feels that the ability to become a strong leader herself came because of how Hansen genuinely cared about her and saw her potential.
"He loves everyone. That is an important step for people to become leaders is to have someone believe in them," Beech said. "When you have a teacher that loves and cares about you, you want to be better, which makes you rise up and be the leader that you need to be."
Hansen says it is through theater that students learn and develop skills in communication and human interaction that will bless them in any endeavor throughout their lives.
"That is what I have been pushing for these last few years, I want to make sure what the students learn here is valuable to them elsewhere," Hansen said.
Hansen has written plays for the past 40 years, many of which have been produced, one actually having been published. To Hansen, theater is more than just telling stories; it is an inspired way of learning.
"Theater is what I call a secular temple. It is where we learn how to be human beings," Hansen said. "In that context, all theater, if done well, leads people to be more Christlike."