History & Future
Dordt Theatre: Where We Came From, Where We're Going...
Early in Dordt's history, drama was a co-curricular activity. Among the first public performances were Anne of Green Gables (1956) and Old Doc (1957) directed by Deborah Haan, the president's wife, and Luella Duistermars. The Thalians drama club, at the urging of student Nolan Vander Ark and with the sponsorship of Merle Meeter, formed during the 1961-62 school year and played an important role in the development of theatre at Dordt.
In 1963, James Koldenhoven, who had been teaching English and directing plays at nearby Western Christian High School, was hired to do the same at Dordt. In order to generate interest in theatre, Koldenhoven cultivated a group of theatre patrons and arranged for appearances by touring companies. As Koldenhoven's passion for theatre grew, he began the push for a full-fledged theatre program at Dordt.
In the fall of 1977, Koldenhoven was joined by Verne Meyer and Mike Stair, and the Dordt College theatre arts department officially became a reality.
At the time the department was founded, half of the old gymnasium was converted into a theatre with the other half available for shop space and the costume department and faculty offices. This theatre, the New World Theatre, is now used mainly for student-directed productions, with the mainstage shows put on in the more spacious and well-equipped Te Paske Theatre. Other former faculty and staff include Simon duToit, John Hofland, Shirley Matheis, and Jeri Schelhaas.
Today, productions continue to be entered into the American College Theatre Festival competition, and several have been chosen for presentation at the regional festival. High school theatre festivals occur every other year. Comedy League continues to provide improv-style entertainment and opportunities for audience participation.
All Dordt students have the opportunity to audition for the mainstage productions, be involved in student-directed one-acts, or work on senior student productions. Opportunities also technical aspects of theatre.
Find out more about current theatre faculty and staff here.