Prairie Profiles, Emily Staloch, Nissa Nordland: Charlotte’s camp

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2006

By Joseph Marks, staff writer

Enter Nissa Nordland, stage left. A tricky little name for a tricky little person, she sometimes jokes.

The joke is borne out by her appearance. Energetic and sprightly, a professor once told her she looked too young to play some adult roles. That charge proved unwarranted when she played Lady Macbeth last year at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, where she is a student.

Enter Emily Staloch, stage right. She looks back at the farm scene painted on heavy fabric at the back of the stage, then up to the lighting booth behind the audience.

The two observe each other thoughtfully.

Though they’re close friends, the two young women come to this stage for very different reasons. Nordland studies the classics and wants to work in a regional Shakespearean theater company.

Staloch is a techie at heart, more interested in lights and music than people talking on stage, which she says gets boring. To fulfill her theater degree at the University of South Dakota, she must take one acting class after which she’s done with that side of the stage, she said.

Nordland is also a playwright. Her dream is to write, direct and act in her own production. Staloch studied dance when she was younger. She dreams of directing and arranging lights and

choreography on her own musical tour.

The two young women, both graduates of Albert Lea High School, brought their talents back home this summer as interns at Albert Lea Community Theater’s Youth Theater Camp.

Staloch is the technical director and Nordland is the assistant director and acting coach for 24

10-to-18-year-olds in their production of &8220;Charlotte’s Web.&8221;

Albert Lea Community Theater Artistic Director Patrick Rasmussen directs the show.

The production has a classroom component, too. Before rehearsals each day, Nordland does warm up exercises with the students and leads them in acting exercises.

Staloch supervises students as they construct the set and plan other technical aspects of the production.

&8220;These kids have worked their butts off,&8221; Staloch said. &8220;I’ve been hard on them but they’ve gone past my expectations. It’s their show. We’re just supervising it.&8221;

Nordland agreed the students have taken ownership of the production.

&8220;I tell them, if something goes wrong it’s up to them to correct it,&8221; she said.

Nordland and Staloch both got their theatrical starts in Albert Lea.

Staloch studied dance with Joyce Matthies and did technical theater work in high school productions. When she finishes college she plans to go on the road, working lights for concerts or musical productions.

&8220;I like doing theater,&8221; she said, &8220;but I love the social aspect too. It’s a whole other world being in theater.&8221;

Nordland developed her love for theater early. When she was 8 years old, she said, her parents were watching a film version of &8220;Hamlet&8221; and thought she was occupying herself with Barbie dolls. When she started crying, she said, they were surprised to find she was actually moved by the movie. She’d been following closely and could recount the plot to them.

It wasn’t until she was a junior in high school that Nordland auditioned for her first show, &8220;The Crucible,&8221; and played a supporting role. In high school and college she’s played lead and supporting roles in &8220;You Can’t Take It with You,&8221; &8220;Fiddler on the Roof&8221; and &8220;Stop Kiss.&8221;

Next year she’ll direct a dramatic version of &8220;The Graduate.&8221;

After college she plans to get a master’s of fine arts in acting and work her way to Broadway.

&8220;I’m not into film acting,&8221; she said. &8220;I love the stage, and I respect it more than film. There’s something so organic about the stage. You’re up there and there’s another soul up there with you and you’re making a moment. With film you do it over and over to get that moment.&8221;