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2/25/2005 'The Water Children' set on Linfield stage

McMINNVILLE ? Linfield College theatre students will portray both sides of a sensitive issue when they present "The Water Children" by Wendy MacLeod March 15-18 at the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall.

Featuring a cast of 12 Linfield students, "The Water Children" follows Megan, an actress who is pro-choice, as she takes a job in a pro-life commercial. The term "water children" comes from a Japanese tradition dealing with the philosophy of aborted children.

Katie Dolph, a first-year student from Reno, Nev., plays the lead role of Megan. She is accompanied on stage by another first-year student, Ben Los of Lake Oswego, who plays the part of Randall. Charlotte Brockman, a senior majoring in history from Birmingham, Ala., is Megan?s roommate, Liz.

Dolph has immersed herself in the Linfield theatre program since arriving on campus in the fall, appearing in "Your Life as a Feature Film" and "Antigone." She is also a Theatre Department office assistant.

"The hardest thing about playing the role of Megan is that she?s constantly torn," Dolph said. "She isn?t violating anyone?s belief because she doesn?t know how she feels. My challenge is to create that tension and be believable."

The play is presented in arena seating, with the audience surrounding the stage. As a result, Dolph remains on stage for most of the production.

"It?s easier than going on and off stage," Dolph said. "The set creates a believable world and you?re much more in character. When you go backstage you sort of lose that focus. But at the same time, it?s a lot of work."

The production is directed by Thomas Gressler, Linfield professor emeritus of theatre arts, who said the story presents both sides of the abortion issue equally.

"Megan has to decide whether she?ll participate in propaganda for a position she doesn?t agree with," he said. "In doing the commercial she hears the pro-life side of it. The dilemma is striking."

Gressler, who retired from Linfield in 2000 after teaching 20 years, has directed 200 plays, operas, musicals and revues. Most recently he returned to Linfield in 2003 to guest direct "The Crucible," the first production in the Marshall Theatre.

The arena seating configuration, coupled with the play?s multiple short scenes, presents a technical challenge, Gressler said.

"As a director, I try to make clear where we are and when," he said. "Everything is right out there. There?s no place to hide so it has to be done subtly."

The play contains mature subject matter and adult language.

Performances will be March 15-18 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors (62+). Tickets will go on sale March 4 and may be purchased at the Marshall Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., with expanded hours on performance days. The box office is located just inside the lobby of Ford Hall. Tickets may also be reserved by phone, 503-883-2292, or e-mail, theatre@linfield.edu.

To reach Ford Hall from 99W, turn east on Keck Drive at the McMinnville Market Center in south McMinnville. Turn right on Lever Street and right again on Ford Drive. Ford Hall is located at the west end of the parking lot.