BHSU theatre to close fall season with cyberbullying workshop play

Author: Gustave Karinen/Tuesday, November 15, 2016/Categories: 2016

Black Hills State University students, back row (from left to right): Lexie Ellison, Julie VanDriel, Kayla O'Neal, JD Schroeder, and Sierra Nix front row (from l to r): Kyle Graves, Sami O'Neal, Tarina Nye, and Drew Concha are part of the cast for "Non-Player Character," which runs Nov. 15-17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Woodburn Mainstage Theatre, second floor, on campus.

The Black Hills State University Theatre Department concludes its fall season with a workshop production "Non-Player Character," addressing the gaming pin-up culture and the cyberbullying of women. The play will take place in the Woodburn Mainstage Theatre, second floor, on campus, Nov. 15-17 at 7:30 p.m.

The show contains adult language and is appropriate for mature audiences. Tickets are $10 for general admission $8 for senior citizens $5 for BHSU faculty and staff and free for BHSU students with a Buzz Card.

The play, written by Walt McGough, tells the story about how people, especially women, are treated online. This play is a workshop production and has not been on the stage prior to this showing.

Bert Juhrend, professor of theatre at BHSU, and director of "Non-Player Character," says the play is very timely, especially with the prevalence of bullying, and cyberbullying in current events.

The main character in the play is a woman who designs video games for a living. The story is enriched with various visual effects, from scenes of the video games to digital bubbles with online messages.

"Women in the gaming industry just want to be normal. However, unless they are pin-up models so often portrayed in video games and are "on display," men don't like it," says Juhrend.

JD Schroeder, theatre major from Yorktown, Texas, one of the main actors in the play says the show talks about real world problems in the gaming industry.

"This play wants to show the audience that when things go wrong you have to find your source of strength. You have to be brave enough to stand up and say no," says Schroeder.

Juhrend says that a lot of actors have personal views which are completely different from their characters' views.

"I am playing a character that is 100 percent a real person -- he has feelings, he has wants and needs, and most of all he's flawed," says Schroeder.

According to Juhrend, the author is making a statement with the play: Women need to feel empowered and not feel oppressed by the people that come after them online.

"There's language in this play geared towards women that is very bad. And that's what happens online to many women which is why the language is so important to the play," adds Juhrend.

'Schroeder believes the show is fantastic because it is about fighting monsters both in the video game world and in real life.

'The cast of "Non-Player Character" includes:
  • Katia (Aria)-Kayla O'Neal, graphic design and communication major from Burwell, Neb.
  • Trent (Casper)-JD Schroeder, theatre major from Yorktown, Texas
  • Feldrick-Simon Fiske, education major Spearfish
  • Morwyn/Officer-Tarina Nye, elementary education major from Rapid City
  • Naomi-Lexie Ellison, psychology and sociology major from Gayville
  • Grant/Farmer Jenkins-Kyle Graves, graphic design and theatre major from Rapid City
  • Crone/Citizen-Kaleigh Crumb, human services major from Rapid City
  • Denizens of Spearlight-Drew Concha, graphic design major from Sturgis Sierra Nix, biology major from McIntosh and Samantha O'Neal graphic design communication major from Ord, Neb.
BHSU Theatre will continue with additional productions in the spring. More information about the upcoming plays will be available at  

For more information about the upcoming play contact Juhrend at 605-642-6268 or email

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