The Rural Academy Theater set up on Sanford Mall in their old-fashioned covered wagon Thursday for their third annual performance at Appalachian State University.
Playcrafters and honors theater fraternity Alpha Psi Omega helped bring the group back to campus.
“Rural Academy Theater is a touring group of puppeteer artists who travel all over North Carolina with their horse-pulled wagon, and they bring political, sort of avant-garde theater to rural communities and universities that will put them up for a night,” Playcrafters president and senior theater arts major, Luke White said.
The six-piece theater group started the night performing music just after sundown. Students were encouraged to bring blankets and chairs and sit on the hill of Sanford Mall for the production.
“They’re one of the few shows that tour, one of the only performers that comes to our campus on a wagon, and it’s political but they do it in a really fun way, and that’s really different and a lot different than the shows that come to Schaefer,” White said. “So it’s cool to see that.”
The group performed songs, presented a puppet show and performed the score alongside a silent movie projected on the side of the wagon throughout the hour-long show.
“I think they have a really unique approach to theater, today,” said Anna Ward, theater professor and event coordinator. “You really don’t see almost a vaudeville style – traveling from small town to small town – theater like this anymore.”
Each individual song and performance throughout the night featured an environmental and political lesson taught.
“We like to bring as many different theater artists to the school as possible, it’s important to have a wide knowledge of theater that exists out there and they have a really good message,” White said. “Being up in the mountain community where so much of our environment is at stake, I think it is important to be connected to nature and the world around us and they do it in a really fun manner.”
Ward said that it is important for students to see a different type of theater.
“These people work really hard and they enjoy what they do and they’re passionate about it,” Ward said. “This is part of their lives. I think it’s neat to see how different people live out their passions and are able to live as artists and see them do what they love.”
Although there was a brief rainstorm during the performance, the actors continued with their show.
“It was a great experience and brought out a nostalgia in me that I’ve never experienced before,” show attendee and junior psychology major Vincent Arcuri said.
Rural Theater Academy will be continuing their bike and wagon travels, bringing their show on the road throughout the mountains of North Carolina until end of October.
Story: Casey Suglia, Intern A&E Reporter