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A Taste of Iowa in Rushford

By Sara Pecinovsky

Fri, Aug 2nd, 2013
Posted in Rushford Arts & Culture

By Sara Pecinovsky

Being home from college, I try to connect back with a few friends from home to catch up on our lives. A couple weeks ago, I asked a dear friend of mine to accompany me to check out the Rushford Days celebration. I had a plan to attend a specific event, but when we drove by the high school, our plans changed immediately. We both recalled a play was to be performed that evening, which was right up our alley. Since being active members of drama club productions in high school, we wanted to relive our “glory days” and we figured attending the play Leaving Iowa would allow us to take a trip down memory lane.

The story of Leaving Iowa revolves around Don Browning, a news columnist, who returns to his hometown of Winterset, Iowa (aka “Home of the Duke”) to visit his family. Though his father passed away three years ago, his ashes have resided in a coffee can on the fuse box at his mother’s house due to the fact that “it was cheaper.” Taking the responsibility to give his father a proper place of rest, he travels to Mt. Union, Iowa, his father’s hometown, to place the remains on his grandparent’s farm… until he learns that it is now a grocery store. While on his journey, he remembers back to the quirky, hilarious, and yet torturous family road trip to Hannibal, Mo. The memories trigger an idea to take his father’s remains to the center of the United States, a place his father really wanted to visit on that particular road trip. By reliving the memories of his father, Don learns that where you are from shapes who you are.

I was really interested in learning more about the RASA group in Rushford, so I got in contact with Brenda Heimgartner, the past President and current Secretary of RASA. She told me that the Rushford Area Society of Arts has been around for 33 years and has performed over 65 plays. “Our mission is to bring arts to the Rushford area,” she said. When asked about how the RASA choose the play Leaving Iowa she stated that, “We are always looking for wholesome comedy for our theater production. This play was performed in my mother’s city of Aberdeen, South Dakota last November.“ Heimgartner’s mother knew of her involvement with theater and she suggested they take a look at it. “It was a good fit for us and the cast numbers were flexible so we believed we could cast it well.” Just this February, RASA gained rights to the play and then began holding auditions in April. Starting in June, they were able to start rehearsal!

There is something about being in theater that brings a community, and even surrounding communities, together. Having experienced performing and assisting with productions like this I can vouch for the effect that a live performance can have on the community. Whether it is through the humor, the story with a lesson, our own individual characters, or how the cast works together on stage, the audience has the opportunity to find a connection with performers. “I think the best thing about the play Leaving Iowa is that most everyone in the Midwest, no matter your age, can relate to this play,” Heimgartner stated. “I think the greatest part of being in a play is working with your friends and neighbors who enjoy theater as much as you do, and enjoy being entertained and entertaining others.” I could not have said that better myself. With all the events Rushford Days had to offer, this one left me laughing all the way to my car.

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