The Storm in the Theatre


Flint Dignan, Student Writer

Horace High School is opening its brand new theatre with a play called The Storm in the Barn this fall! It is directed by Adam Pankow with help from his assistant director Braden Miller. Through an interview with Adam, I got answers to some burning questions! This is his first time working with the script as it has only recently become available for schools to do, Horace’s production of The Storm in the Barn is going to be a local, regional, and state premiere of the play. Though it may be his first time working with this script, this isn’t his first time opening a theatre. He opened a theatre once before, at Sheyenne High School back in 2014. He states, “The opportunity is not without its challenges, but the effort taking place now lays the foundation for the program and hopefully puts it in the path of success for years to come.”

This is definitely not his first rodeo, nor even his third. Pankow tells that he’s been involved with theatre for nearly 30 years, his first experience being when he was in middle school and his friend convinced him to audition for a play his friend really wanted to be in, Pankow made the cast, his friend didn’t. He adds, “A career in the arts is an attainable and rewarding possibility for those inclined to pursue it.” Pankow’s favorite thing about theatre is, understandably, the process. Seeing the growth between the first rehearsal and closing night; he especially likes educational theatre because of the learning that occurs, he says that each person has both something to teach and something to learn.

Now, you may not even know what The Storm in the Barn is about, I know I didn’t when I first heard of it. In case you couldn’t tell from the title, in the show there’s a barn that has a storm in it. The show is based off of a Young Adult graphic novel by Matt Phelan, its first production was ten years ago, in 2012. In our interview, Pankow explained how The Storm in the Barn blends together history and fantasy. It’s set in the dust bowl of the 1930s and explores the factors that caused this desperate time, but mainly focuses on the most obvious reason: drought cause by a lack of rain. Rain becomes the main topic of the show, our main character, Jack, becomes more consumed than anyone by the thought of rain. Pankow states, “the subject manifests in his mind as the unrelenting, Storm King.” The Storm King hides out in one of his neighbor’s barns that left town due to the Dust Bowl. The Storm King is as Pankow says, “a figment of imagination caused by the wind and dust blowing through creaky structure, but also through the stresses of the drought that has taken away so much from everyone.” But will Jack prevail and save his family? Or will they all be swallowed by dust?

Theatre is a wonderful experience, and storytelling has been a part of humanity since the beginning of mankind. Pankow is excited about the opportunity to open our new theatre with this story, and comments that this show will showcase the facility, resources, and technology that Horace High School’s theatre department will have. As this is the first production of Horace High, we’re setting standards, and presenting our visions to the audience. Pankow aims to engage the audiences and set a standard of excellence that will stay in place into the future of Horace’s Theatre Arts.

As a director, Pankow does his best to show up for the cast and be open to possibilities. He sets a positive mood, communicates his visions, and encourages the cast to work together to create an amazing production. He wants to make sure everyone feels like they can contribute and participate in the creation process. Pankow says, “Taking all the ideas and making them work together in the overall artistic vision is the balancing act I strive to achieve as a director.” So, if you’d like to see how the balance turns out and find out once and for all whether or not they all get swallowed by the dust and the Storm King prevails, come see our show! The performances are the 17th-19th (Thursday- Saturday) of November at 7:30pm, and the 20th of November at 2pm!