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Visiting Norwegian history scholar gives WSA actors new perspectives on their play.

Dr. Netland talks with WSA Theatre student on September 19, 2022

The West Sound Academy Theatre Company is producing Lizzie Nunnery’s The Snow Dragons, as their fall production. The play’s plot is based on the true story of the Nazi occupation of Norway and the resistance attacks taken on by average Norwegians. Interwoven into the events is the story of Norway’s King and Crown Prince working to outrun the Nazis who invaded Oslo on April 9, 1940. 

 To better understand the historic significance of the events surrounding the story, Director Gretchen Nordleaf reached out to the Poulsbo lodge of the Sons of Norway asking if anyone could help with stories of WWII in Norway.  It just so happened that the grandmother of stage manager, Mad Prasch, is a member of the Poulsbo lodge.  Kathy Prasch took on the quest and after putting out the call, Dr. Bjorn Netland of Port Gamble answered her request.  Dr. Netland has been an educator not only at the university level at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, but has also taught at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and Central Kitsap High School.  Dr. Neltand was born in Norway in 1944 during the Nazi occupation. While he does not personally remember the occupation, he grew up hearing stories from relatives that he shared with the cast and crew on September 19th at one of their early rehearsals.

During Dr. Netland’s visit and talk he explained that some women fell in love with German soldiers and at the end of the war were treated brutally.  He said the honesty of human emotions was clear with the love that developed [during war time] including between German and Norwegian people.”   10th grader Nascha Martinez asked him “How can we best portray the times so it is as realistic as possible?”  Dr. Netland’s response was simple “fear.”

Dr. Netland’s description of the Nazi invasion of Norway and its aftermatch left the entire cast reflecting on how their performances could best reflect this difficult period in that country’s history. “As a cast, I believe [Dr. Netland’s account] will impact the way we view the events in the play.  They, for the most part, are not works of fiction. They are a commemoration of real things, which real people endured,” said 10th grader Tütlalee Wines.  Jazz Schumacher, another 10th Grade student, added, “This…new insight… allows us to rehearse, and eventually perform, our play with an authentic sense of fear and bravery.”

The Snow Dragons is set to be performed in the West Sound Academy Commons in Baker Hall: two evening performances at 7 p.m. on November 4th and 5th, and  a 2 p.m. matinee performance on November 6th. Admission to the show is by patron donation, with suggested donation of $10 per person.

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