Thank You, Perry and Paul!

The department of theatre at Hope College will be saying goodbye to Perry Landes and Paul Anderson as they say hello to retirement at the end of this academic year.

Paul Anderson, Theatre’s Technical Director

Originally from Illinois, Paul spent several years working for Wayne State University before coming to Hope.  While at Wayne State, he saw several seasons of productions by the Hillberry Repertory Company; one of the only graduate-level repertories in the country. After his time at Wayne State, and out of a job, a friend invited him to sing in the pit choir for the musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  

During scenic strike for the production, Paul thought to himself, “I could do this,” and he enrolled at Hope College, where he was a student from 1986-1988. After graduating, Paul worked as a freelance carpenter around Holland until he received a phone call from Hope professor and  then theatre department chair, Richard Smith.  Richard told Paul that the theatre department had been granted funding for a technical director position, so Paul applied for the job and was hired.

Perry Landes, Theatre’s Facility Manager, Lighting and Sound Designer and Associate Professor

Perry grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and studied music performance and composition at Colorado State University and Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington.  At Whitworth, he caught the theatre bug when he designed and ran sound for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.  After graduation and a brief stint as a performing musician,  he returned to Whitworth as the Auditorium Coordinator. He then obtained an MFA in Design Technical Theatre from the University of Montana, where he also composed incidental music for plays.  After the MFA was completed, he started a freelance career in Salinas, California. Shortly thereafter, a phone call from Richard Smith brought him on a one-year appointment to Holland starting in the fall semester of 1987.  

“One year.  I was here for a year, I thought,” Perry says. “We see how that worked out!”

Perry is the Lighting and Sound Designer in Residence, Associate Professor and Facilities Manager. He explains that no two days are alike, which has always kept the work fresh and interesting.   There are always plenty of problems to solve, both creative and otherwise. His schedule takes him all over the building and elsewhere, so he admits that he isn’t in his office very often.

Paul says his job as technical director for the theatre department is more regulated than Perry’s job, and he has tried to keep it that way. Despite the depth of the tasks Paul is given, he has managed to keep his work schedule to five days a week:

“Theatre is known to eat some people’s lives, and I have attempted to not let that happen.”  Paul’s main task as the TD is to take Richard Smith’s scenic designs, or drawings, and to interpret and build them in the best manner to safely support the productions.

The Hope College theatre department and community will greatly miss these dedicated departmental members after their 63 years of combined service.

Perry indicates that picking a favorite production from his time at Hope would be equivalent to picking a favorite child. He did, however, name The Nutcracker, a Play, which featured puppeteer and alum Brad William’s giant mice and spiders. The Nutcracker, a Play was presented five times between 1990 and 1995.  Another piece that came to mind was Buried Child, staged in 1992, featuring Professor Emeritus George Ralph. But there are so many, he says, all wonderful memories.  Paul also had a hard time picking a favorite production but was able to identify one of his favorite parts of technical directing. He said that even when the construction of a show seemed to drag on beyond endurance, or if there were real struggles getting the show up, sitting in the auditorium and witnessing everything come together on opening night made all of the challenges worth it:

“If there are functional elements in the set, there is always a moment of anticipation to see if it works, and when it does, I think wow, it worked, it came together.   Seeing the results is the most rewarding.”

We also asked Perry about his favorite aspects of working at Hope College. “Working with students” evolved over the years into a primary interest.  Hope students can be so bright, articulate, intellectually curious, and engaged. Perry explained that he had never planned on becoming a teacher. He intended a career as a composer and designer, and thought he might teach for a year or two, perhaps, later in his career. Here at Hope, however, his relationships with students became as interesting as his design work, often more so. He admits, however, that he loves those rare, precious moments during a production when the audience members forget to breathe because they have become transfixed:

“That’s what it’s all about.  I live for those moments,” Perry says.

Paul’s and Perry’s last working day at Hope College will be June 30th. In retirement, Perry plans on taking some steps away from theatre to follow other creative passions and do more writing, home improvements, and travel. Similar to Perry, Paul hopes to travel, build furniture, and work on a miniature working steam locomotive that runs on real coal. When it’s complete, it should produce enough power to pull a couple of adults on a riding car.

Perry’s advice to new faculty would be to make the most of the ‘honeymoon phase’,  just after being hired. Chairs, deans and provosts are at their most amenable! Be sure to make recommendations, ask for things, and take action. It’s a very valuable time. Paul’s advice to anyone who may fill his shoes in the future is to get to know the students and truly pay attention to them: “They come in with such a wide range of talents.  It will be a challenge, but don’t judge a student based strictly on their initial abilities, give them a chance.”

The Hope College theatre department and community will greatly miss these dedicated departmental members after their 63 years of combined service. We are beyond grateful for all of the wisdom, guidance, creativity, dedication, and love for the arts they have shared with us.

Object Lesson: Christ’s Life by Rembrandt van Rijn

Lent is a time for prayer and reflection on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. On April 9, the Kruizenga Art Museum opened a focused exhibition of etchings by the 17th-century Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn that includes eight poignant scenes from the life of Christ. These beautiful images may inspire special contemplation as we prepare to celebrate the Easter Season, but their broader meaning and relevance continues to resonate throughout the year.  

The Holy Family. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1632.  Etching and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.10

Throughout his life, Rembrandt made sketches of ordinary people he encountered in the course of his daily activities. He then used these sketches as models for many of the figures that appear in his prints and paintings. This etching of the Holy Family illustrates Rembrandt’s prodigious ability to observe and record the mundane details of everyday life. It shows Mary nursing the baby Jesus in the foreground while Joseph leans against a wall in the background reading a book. There are no haloes, angels or other signs of the Christ child’s divinity. Instead, Rembrandt has captured the moment when Jesus seems to be nodding off after his feed and the slightly disheveled, tired-looking Mary—who has kicked off her shoes to relieve the pressure on her aching feet—is preparing to return to the sewing basket that stands open beside her.

The Flight into Egypt: a Night Piece. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1651. Etching, engraving and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.4

This print from later in Rembrandt’s career adds drama to this image of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt by setting the scene at night. Dense areas of cross-hatching on the plate create an inky darkness that envelops Joseph, Mary and Jesus as they flee King Herod’s murderous wrath. Rembrandt’s technique is so effective that the untouched areas of the paper inside Joseph’s lantern truly appear to glow with light. Rembrandt revised the plate for this print many times until he achieved the visual effects he desired. Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print). Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), ca. 1649. Etching, engraving and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.13

Rembrandt was masterful in his ability to create complex visual narratives. This print, for instance, conflates several stories from the Gospel of Matthew in which Christ ministers to the sick, debates the Pharisees on points of religious law, exhorts a wealthy young man to give up his possessions, and declares that children belong to the kingdom of heaven. It has long been recognized as one of Rembrandt’s masterworks for the variety of facial expressions and bodily gestures evident in the crowd of figures around Christ, and for the dramatic play of light and dark passages throughout the composition. Some scholars think that Rembrandt did not sell this print during his lifetime, and that he only gave impressions to close friends and important patrons. The relative rarity of the print drove up its value to the point where an impression once sold for one hundred guilders, a very high price for a print and the equivalent of about four months wages for an average worker at the time. 

The Raising of Lazarus. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1632; this impression late 17th-early 18th century. Etching and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.6

Rembrandt created this print when he was only twenty-six years old. He had just moved from Leiden to Amsterdam and he used the large, dramatic image to advertise his artistic abilities to potential patrons. The print depicts a story from the Gospel of John in which Jesus resurrects a man named Lazarus who had died four days earlier. The gospel says that after raising Lazarus from the dead, Christ proclaims, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” The image captures the climactic moment when Jesus commands Lazarus to come forth from his tomb. The blazing light that emanates from Jesus’s body gives the scene a theatrical quality and emphasizes the miraculous, almost magical power of Christ.    

Christ Driving Money Changers from the Temple. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1635; this impression 17th-early 18th century. Etching. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.9

All four gospels say that when Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, Jesus was outraged to find merchants and money changers operating in the temple courtyard. He accused them of turning the holy site into a “den of thieves” and drove them out with a whip made of cords. Here, Rembrandt conveys the inherent drama of the scene by placing Christ at the center of the composition, his body torqued as he raises the whip to strike the merchants and money changers who cower before him. The expressions on the faces of the people and animals surrounding Jesus clearly show the shock and confusion caused by the sudden explosion of his righteous anger. The frenetic cross-hatching and jagged line-drawing further enhance the feeling of energy and emotion in the image.   

Christ Before Pilate. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1636; this impression 17th-18th century. Etching, engraving and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.2

This print portrays Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus to the people of Jerusalem for judgement. It is one of Rembrandt’s most ambitious etchings and took more than a year to complete. Scholars now think that Christ and the other figures in the center of the image were drawn by Rembrandt himself, but that the surrounding parts of the composition were completed by Rembrandt’s workshop assistants. One of the figures in the central group who appears wearing a plumed cap and leaning over the balustrade bears a striking resemblance to Rembrandt’s self-portraits, and may have been included by the master as an amusing allusion to the status of artists as observers and interpreters of history. 

The Crucifixion. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), 1635; this impression 17th century. Etching. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.8

As Rembrandt matured artistically, his compositions became increasingly subtle and sophisticated. In this image of Christ’s crucifixion from 1635, Rembrandt leaves almost half of the printing plate empty, allowing the blank space to magnify the feelings of sorrow and desolation evoked by the anguished figures that surround the cross. Rembrandt experimented with different ways of inking the plate for this print to make the image appear lighter or darker. This impression, which may have been taken during Rembrandt’s lifetime, has an even, mid-range tone.

Christ Carried to the Tomb. Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669), ca. 1645; this impression 17th century. Etching and drypoint. The Sarah and Grace Collection, 2018.8.3

Part of Rembrandt’s genius was his ability to imagine and convey the inner feelings of the characters in the stories he depicted. This etching of Christ’s followers carrying his body to the tomb perfectly captures the somber dejection they must have felt after Christ’s execution and before his resurrection. The jumbled, nervous lines of the landscape around the figures further magnify the mood of uncertainty and confusion. This is one of the few etchings that Rembrandt did not re-work and re-print in multiple states. It exists in only one state, and the quality of this impression suggests that it may have been printed during Rembrandt’s lifetime.

All of these prints are included in the focus exhibition Rembrandt Etchings, on view at the Hope College Kruizenga Art Museum from April 9 to June 1, 2019. The museum is located at 271 Columbia Avenue in Holland, MI. Public visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am-4pm. The museum is closed on all campus holidays, including Easter weekend. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Courage and Creativity at the Student Dance Showcase

Creativity takes courage, and putting your ideas on stage for the world to see is a baring of the soul like no other. This weekend, students of the Hope College Dance Department present their choreography, some for the first time, in the biannual Student Dance Showcase. They are nervous, excited and hopeful, hopeful that their pieces touch the audience, or challenge the audience, or both.

Photo by Erik Alberg

Some students are choreographing for a grade, finished pieces serving as their culminating efforts for Composition class. Others simply love to create, and the Student Dance Showcase provides the perfect forum.

The creative process can be both exhilarating and exasperating, both terrifying and life-giving. Within the studio, a choreographer researches form and content, the ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of movement invention, employing choreographic tools and devices that turn ideas into art. For the spring Showcase, student choreographers begin their pieces in January, first working alone and then inviting their peers in the Dance Department and across campus into a busy weekly rehearsal process through April. Following spring break the choreographers present their mostly-finished pieces to Showcase advisers Professors Shauna Steele and Angela Yetzke. The advisers give feedback and offer creative solutions to each student’s choreographic roadblocks. Then comes the difficult decision-making.

It is up to Steele and Yetzke to determine which pieces will be presented formally at the Knickerbocker Theatre and which will be presented in the Dow 207 studio that converts to a small white-box theater. Student choreographers placed in the Knickerbocker have the unique opportunity to work with Erik Alberg, Technical Director for the Performing Arts, who creates individual lighting designs for each piece presented. Typically, the Knickerbocker pieces are further developed or warrant a type of technical support only possible in an actual theater, but not always. Some pieces are strategically chosen for the intimate setting of the Dow studio where nuance and detail are highlighted in exquisite ways.

The 21 pieces presented in this year’s spring Showcase were thoughtfully placed and range from ballet to contemporary to jazz to hip hop to dance theater. Three pieces are multidisciplinary in nature. Juniors Anna Smith and Andi Yost bring color to their collaborative movement creation, paint in hand, their bodies as canvas (Dow shows). Senior Chanel Harrison incorporates her original poetry into a duet with fellow senior Alex Pasker (Knick shows). International student Elizabeth Estrada Flores from the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico, layers dance and live music, collaborating with sophomore business and jazz studies major Michael J. Penida who accompanies her bluesy, playful jazz duet on saxophone (Knick shows).

Come support these brave young artists. Allow their courage and creativity to inspire your own. Please join us for the Spring Student Dance Showcase, this Friday, Dow 207, 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; this Saturday, Knickerbocker Theatre, 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All shows are free.

An Interview with Hope Theatre Major Jose Angulo

All theatre majors at Hope College must hold an internship, fulfill a major design or stage management role in a faculty-directed production, or complete an independent project.   For his final capstone experience, senior Jose Angulo is writing a play titled “Bleach.” It is based on Jose’s own experience as well as the experience of other Latino students navigating the opportunities and challenges as minority students at Hope College. Jose will direct a reading of “Bleach” in the Studio Theatre of the DeWitt Center on Tuesday-Wednesday, April 16-17. The readings will start at 7:30 pm and are free.

Jose and I spoke about the impetus of his project and his goals for the performance.  Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Jose Angulo, right, in The Christians

How did you decide to write this play?

Last summer I had the pleasure of attending the Latinx Theatre Commons, which took place in Chicago.  It was there where I got my inspiration to tell stories of people who are like me. I did not realize how under-represented we are until it was right in front of my face.  The Latinx theatre artists presented their work with such passion and finesse at this festival, and I was in awe. For my final independent project as a senior theatre major, I knew I wanted to do something personal that would represent my college journey.  Through my experience in Chicago, I realized that focusing on the Latino culture here at Hope was a perfect point of departure for me.

What story do you hope to tell?

I began writing a play that would tell the story of struggling Latino students – and ultimately, about one in particular, whose attendance is threatened by the reallocation of financial aid funds.  The story is based on my own experience along with that of my friends and highlights some of the issues we have dealt with while trying to graduate.

Whom do you want to reach with this play?

I would like the story to speak to the Latino audiences in the area.  I know many minority students have had similar experiences, and their voices deserve to be heard.

Jose, left, in Love and Information

How did you approach the writing process?

Initially, it was difficult to figure out the path I wanted to take. I was not sure if I wanted the story to be hopeful or if it should serve more critically as a ‘reality check.’ I wanted to portray my generation accurately and appropriately as well. Frankly, I often feel that we are not portrayed with the intelligence we really have or with the responsibilities and pressures that we bear.  For minority students, there are additional concerns rushing through our heads as we live and study in an environment that is quite dissimilar from our own cultures and homes. We recognize a college education as a necessary and valuable step in survival but the obstacles towards graduation can be formidable.

What are your hopes for the artistic future?

I want my piece to be a step in changing what we are so used to seeing in entertainment.  Minorities make up such a huge portion of the United States, and it is only fair that we see people like us up there. We have so much talent that is yet to be seen and appreciated. My piece is truly for the culture and for the opportunity of other Latinos.

Jose as The Miser


Jose has acted in numerous productions for the college’s Theatre Department.  Already as a freshman, he played two major roles: Associate Pastor Joshua in The Christians and Jean in Miss Julie.  He has also performed in Jane Eyre: The Musical, Love and Information, and Shiloh and played the title role in The Miser.  This past fall, he appeared as The Narrator in Into The Woods and will finish his acting training at Hope by portraying Trigorin in the department’s upcoming production of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull.