Former ICCC student is playwright for unique fall production

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Iowa Central Community College’s fall drama production over the past weekend, “Falling Awake,” was written by an Iowa Central graduate and former performer on the same stage - Aaron Westrum.

Westrum and ICCC theatre director Teresa Jackson enjoyed a collaboration over the summer, adapting the story for a student production.

While at ICCC, Westrum appeared in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, “Hello, Dolly,” “The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch” and ”Clockwork.” After returning to Fort Dodge, he made noteable guest appearances in ICCC shows like “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Footloose.”

“He has sent me numerous scripts over the years to read, and they are all stellar,” Jackson said. “The only reason I haven’t chosen one earlier is that I’m always driven by the talent I desire to feature onstage - and many terrific plays are just not good fits for the students I might have coming to campus. This summer, I was delighted when I realized that I could visualize a variety of my students who could merge beautifully with the ones Westrum had created. As always, I was surprised in auditions by which ones fit - but it’s how I start my creative process.”

“Falling Awake” is a unique and thought-provoking story. Alison, a young woman in a coma, awakens to find herself in an ethereal holding place filled with colorful characters. Also seen is the hospital space with Alison’s doctors and family - a father who is running for governor and shadowed by a pushy campaign manager, a mother who clings to hope and a sister who has always lived in her sister’s shadow. The premise sets up both light-hearted moments of comedy and serious conflicts about the pain and heartache that comes with living in an imperfect world.

The play was in part inspired by Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical vision for the classic Alice in Wonderland story.

The cast for the production numbered about 40 students.

“I am excited to have Iowa Central performing one of my plays. My first play was originally conceived with Iowa Central in mind,” Westrum said. “I’ve always wanted to see my words come to life under Teresa’s direction. I was privileged to perform as a lead in four of her productions during my time at ICCC and then twice more after graduation, she asked me to come back - that stage always felt like home to me.”

After graduating, he went on to direct plays for nearly a decade at Camanche High School, and has to date written four original plays.

Prior to performing at Decker Auditorium Thursday through Saturday, the past staged a matinee on Wednesday for area schools.