Spring Musical on the History of Augsburg

Danny Reinan, Staff Writer

The Spring musical, titled All that we Carry, celebrates Augsburg’s sesquicentennial and explores the university’s past, present and future. On the evening of Nov. 7, students piled into Sateren Auditorium in order to attend the musical’s first reading. All that we Carry tells its story from the lenses of leaders throughout Augsburg’s history, as well as from the lens of a group of humans living in the year 2069 who are trying to piece together that very same lost history. The musical is a collaboration between several key figures in Augsburg’s community. Aaron Gabriel, an Augsburg alumni from 1999, wrote the musical’s script, which has gone through several iterations over the course of the project. Sonja Thompson, a faculty member in Augsburg’s music department, wrote the songs for the musical. Malick Ceesay, an Augsburg alumni from 2017 whose debut play Waiting in Vain opened only two months ago, will be directing the musical and was the facilitator of the script reading. 

Over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year, the creative team behind the musical held a number of “story circles.” At these story circles, members of the Augsburg community were invited to come and share stories related to their time at Augsburg. The stories that came from the story circles were shared by Augsburg students, staff, faculty and alumni; their unique experiences were blended into a fictional narrative that pays tribute to Augsburg’s history as a whole.

When the musical’s script was read aloud for the audience in Sateren to hear, a group of volunteering students were there to lend their voices to the storyline. One such student was Gabrielle Lewis, a third-year Theater major, who will be stage managing the musical once production begins in the spring. The reading was her first time getting to look at the script and she is already excited about the potential that it holds. 

“I loved imagining the slightly dystopian atmosphere the script uses to look back on Augsburg’s history as I read,” Lewis said. “Malick brings such a wonderful, collaborative energy to the room, and you can tell how excited and enthusiastic he is to bring this script to the stage.” Lewis says that she thinks that the unique collaborative efforts that went into devising the musical will make the production something truly special. 

Although the team behind the musical had been working long and hard on their project for several years now, Ceesay described the current iteration of the script as being in an “in-between place” – not a first draft, but not quite a final draft either. The audience members who were in attendance at the script reading were given the ability to lend their own voices to the development of Augsburg’s history, as Ceesay facilitated an audience talkback following the musical reading. There, the audience members were given space to voice what they enjoyed about the musical, what confused them and what message they took away overall from the reading. The musical has been an intensely collaborative process from the very beginning, and the contributions of the recent selection of audience members will hopefully come together to create an even more impactful celebration of Augsburg’s history.

Auditions for All that we Carry will open early in the spring semester. Students of all identities, majors and minors are encouraged to audition.