Theatre plans to act

Austere Van’s Hamline Theatre residency for the spring semester promises to add opportunities for prospective actors.

Robin Doyscher, Senior Reporter

Hamline welcomes the talented actor, director and choreographer, Austene Van, as the next guest for the theatre program’s annual residency. She will be leading three weeks of virtual training, which will conclude in a set of performances. Van is best known as a member of the Penumbra Theatre Company (set to change their name eventually)–most notably for her involvement in their productions of “Detroit ‘67”, “Spunk”, “Amen Corner”, “Blue, Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Dinah Was”, “Blues for an Alabama Sky” and “Seven Guitars.”


Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Professor Jeff Turner, recently sent out information on how to get involved in this program. Auditions will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17, with callbacks taking place on Nov. 18. Rehearsals will begin on Jan. 25, 2021 and will continue until performances the week of Feb. 12.


“For the audition process, Van asks students to select and perform a piece of text, such as a poem, monologue, news article or any original piece of writing that best reflects their response to the state of our nation in 2020,” wrote Turner in an email sent to theatre department students. “Auditions should be no longer than two minutes. Each prospective student will sign up for a five minute slot on Nov. 17 in which they will perform their piece as well as chat with the director. Callbacks will take place the following evening.”


Turner further elaborated on Van’s credentials. 


“Actor, director and choreographer, Austene Van is one of the most commanding theatre artists in the Twin Cities. She has worked with such companies as Penumbra Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Park Square Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, The Yellow Tree Theatre, Ten Thousand Things Theatre, Mixed Blood, Theater Latte Da, History Theatre and the Children’s Theatre Company. Additionally, Ms. Van has performed nationally at the McCarter Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre,” Turner wrote.


Van– also the Artistic Director of the New Dawn Theatre Company–recently premiered “A Breath For George”, a series of songs, monologues and performances honoring the life and death of George Floyd, a victim of police brutality. 


For more information on how to audition for the upcoming residency, inquiries can be sent to Turner at