Less than a month for singing, dancing, acting... and quilting
By: Jodi H. Beyeler
For most Goshen College students, classes during May term are
intense, but peppered with afternoons of studying on the lawn or
playing Ultimate Frisbee as they relish final days before heading
home for summer.
But this past May didn’t offer such leisurely opportunities to
senior Adrienne Nesbitt and other students and faculty who
turned a class into the full musical drama “Quilters” performed
on the Umble Center stage to large audiences May 18-20.
Under the direction of Professor of Music Debra Brubaker
and Professor of Theater Doug Liechty Caskey, a cast of seven
female students – including Nesbitt – brought to life the
stories of struggles and joys of frontier life for women and
Since she graduated, theater and music double major
Nesbitt saw that an intense month of preparing such a
production would offer her helpful real world experience.
“That is the more realistic way productions are done in
that kind of time frame … to have just a few weeks to put
a show together,” she said. She had previously played roles
in four college mainstage plays and musicals, which were
produced over a full semester.
For “Quilters,” the cast and crew began on a Wednesday
and had to have the words, music, choreography and
blocking memorized in the first week and half. Then, just 18
nights after they began, the rehearsals were over and the show
Though it was a fast and furious process, the month of
preparing and performing was also full of new experiences. “I
introduced the making of quilt patches so that the cast and
crew could get their hands and fingers around what it feels
like to put together fabric and make a quilt,” said Brubaker, a
quilter herself. “There are many references to needles, stitches,
fabric, etc., in the musical and I wanted the women to ‘own’
these ideas and concepts.”
Nesbitt, who hadn’t quilted prior to this but made two ninepatches
in the end, said, “Quilting is something you think of
for older woman and not something you do in college, but we
would go out and work on the quilt when we had a short break.
Instead of being an extra task it ended up being more of a stress
The end result was a quilt that 15 different people put squares
into – including the directors, choreographer, accompanist and
technical director – 25 people helped quilt and it measured 70 by
80 inches. It was then raffled off at the final show to raise money
for quilters in Mongolia.
“The thing I fell in love with about quilts is that there is always
a story,” said Nesbitt. “You become a detective and try to figure out
what the story is behind it. They are sort of little time capsules that