The hot July sun beamed down on the meadow area at Whitewater State Park on Tuesday, July 23, while a group of artists and musicians practiced lines and notes from “A Whitewater World,” an original one-act play written about the history of the Whitewater Valley. As part of the Whitewater State Park Centennial Anniversary, these actors and musicians from multiple counties in Southeast Minnesota are preparing for four upcoming performances scheduled at the park for Sundays at 4 p.m. in August.
The project has been in the works for the past year and half when lead interpretive naturalist Sara Holger envisioned a theater project for the centennial celebrations. “We recently wrapped up an oral history project and we have nearly 100 interviews with area residents, park visitors and former and current park staff,” explained Holger. “I thought it would be amazing to incorporate some of those stories into a theatrical performance.”
Holger reached out to Eva Barr, a local playwright who also runs a theater camp at her off-the-grid farm, Dream Acres, near Wykoff, Minn. “Eva was really excited about this idea and she has experience doing place-based storytelling through theater,” Holger said. “She does an impressive job researching her topics and following up with people to get unique perspectives. She even met with representatives of the Prairie Island Indian Community in Red Wing to invite their participation on the project and to gather their insights and perspectives on the history of the area.”
Visitors to the park during these Sunday shows can expect a unique and inspiring experience as the performances will take place in the meadow, a restored prairie that is the former golf course site where early history pageants in the 1930s and 1940s once attracted thousands of visitors. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and prepare to be immersed in the history of the Whitewater Valley!
The Friends of Whitewater State Park have worked to secure the funds for this project including grants from the Southeast Minnesota Arts Council, the Plainview Area Foundation and the St. Charles Area Community Foundation.