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North Park Alumni Open Theater Company

North Park Alumni Open Theater Company

CHICAGO, IL (September 27, 2010) - During their tenure at North Park University, recent graduates Ashley-Marie Quijano and Jonathen Wikholm dreamed of one day creating their own theatre company — a dream that was finally realized with the opening of their first play two weeks ago.

The Odradek Theatre Company produced bookturned- play “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” which will run through Saturday, Sept. 18. at nearby Gorilla Tango Theatre, located at 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

Quijano and Wikholm said their experiences and education at North Park brought them where they are today.

“We want our company to be about taking risks, to do shows that challenge our beliefs, challenge our society, and to create a place that no matter what, people can be involved in. We strive to create a friendly, active community,” said Quijano, the director of “Dog Sees God.”

It’s something that North Park students hear repeatedly: build community, be diverse, and live intentionally.

“You can only go to school for so long before you finally just have to go out and do it,” said Quijano.

The idea for a theatre company started a year ago. Wikholm and Quijano had been involved in the theatre department since they began attending North Park, and had always dreamed of creating their own company.

“It’s something that every theatre person dreams about, we just decided to make it happen,” said Wikholm. Nowadays, writers and producers generally play it safe, directing shows such as “The Lion King,” “Spiderman,” and “Batman,” because they have popular appeal. However, according to Wikholm, Chicago is where creativity and originality are being produced. With a low budget and no home, Wikholm and Quijano really had nothing to lose.

“We couldn’t have done it without North Park,” said Quijano, a sentiment shared by Wikholm.

“We were trained to do everything that Chicagostyle Theatre has. We were trained to build our own sets, direct our own plays, to manage our own production and gather our own people,” Quijano continued. That is exactly what Quijano and Wikholm did.

“We welcome anyone and everyone to audition, we believe that everyone has artistic abilities and we will use anyone who is willing to do something, ” said Wikholm.

They made their auditions city-wide, connecting with colleges and theatre companies around the greater Chicagoland area.

“Our company is about creating a place that is all about the arts, a place that every artist can build into a community, and everyone can work under one umbrella idea to work together and flourish together,” said Wikholm.

Chicago is a place of originality and risk, and Wikholm believes there is no better time or place for him and his partner to do what they are doing.

Editor's Note: This story is reprinted with permission from the September 24, 2010 edition of The North Park Press, the University's official student newspaper. The author is Campus News Editor Andrea Carlson. Photos by Anne M Heaps.