49th annual Christ College Freshman Production poses tough moral questions

Valparaiso University’s Christ College’s (CC) 49th annual Freshman Production titled Moralititanic: Bermuda Triangle's Got Nothin' On This took place last weekend, Nov. 12-14. The production is an integral part of the first year curriculum, and is a course in which freshmen CC students are tasked with creating a play from start to finish. This includes everything from writing the script to bringing the entire production together with lights, sound and music. 

“Over the course of the semester, the entire class puts together an original theatrical show with music, and they are responsible for the script and the music and all of the technical elements,” said Isaac Schoepp, director and coordinator of the workshop. “Like the costumes and props and everything. And we're all divided up into committees, and each committee kind of has their duty. And once the script is done...we hold auditions and cast the show and enter rehearsals.”

Work on the production begins early in the semester and allows the entire CC freshman cohort of CC.

“We've been working on this since maybe the third week of the semester. So it's been a very long project. But I think it's one that we can all be proud of and show off,” said freshman student Connor Joffe.

Students have full creative freedom to design the story, with the main guidelines being inclusion of ideas from the Christ College freshman readings such as Aristotle and Socrates. This year’s show investigates questions about morality. 

“There are 13 people that the story revolves around. They find themselves on a cruise ship that's sinking and they only have five seats on the only remaining lifeboat. So the crew members and the passengers that are still on the boat have to decide who the five are that are supposed to go on that lifeboat,” Joffe said. “So throughout the course of the story, they sort of decide who should go and should not. So they're basically deciding who gets to live and who doesn't.”

Joffe’s character is a passenger who becomes captain after the previous captain unexpectedly passes away. 

“I play a character, his name is Codwell. Captain Codwell. He's sort of thrust into the position of Captain without any real qualifications. He was with the captain, but when the captain dies, he [picks up] the captain's hat and different characters start assuming that he's the real captain,”  Joffe said. “So in the absence of the real captain, he sort of assumes that role but does it very poorly. And he's sort of stuck with this fact that he's not the real captain. But he has to be the one who does what the captain would. He has to be the one to make some of those tougher decisions.”

A unique part of the production process is the way that the many majors within Christ College come together. A diverse set of skills is necessary to make the entire play work, such as a front of house committee which handles tickets and interacts with the audience as they come in.

“One of the one of the ways that it often manifests itself is that we’ll have students who are maybe from STEM majors, maybe it's an engineering student, or like a business student or whatnot, and they will come into the process a little bit trepidatious about maybe they've never done theater before or maybe they they're not exactly sure how this process is relevant to what they do,” Schoepp said. “And it's one of the one of the great blessings of my position is just getting to see the ways in which students who come into this process a little maybe nervous or unsure of how they'll fit in find ways to plug into the process because theater is such a multidisciplinary field, and it's not just the acting or just the singing or just the playing music.”

Students are each assigned to committees and have the opportunity to participate in script writing prior to the production itself. Many cast members participate in other committees as well to assist in bringing the show together.

“I was on the music composition committee. So I wrote some of the music that will be performed during the performances. I'm also one of the cast members, I play a major character,” Joffe said.

The hard work done by each committee resulted in a culminating performance that showed off the efforts of the group as a whole.

“I really enjoyed composing some of the music. I've had ideas for a very long time, but I haven't actually sat down and made something all the way through. So seeing  the behind the scenes, music composition, and sort of seeing it get worked out and worked on until we got the final product was probably my favorite part,” Joffe said.

A new aspect of the production, which came about after the show was virtual during the pandemic and the 2020-2021 school year, is that it can now be viewed virtually. The archival committee which formerly only made the production recording available on DVD will soon post it to the Valparaiso University YouTube account.

This article will be updated with the link to the freshman production when it becomes available.

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