Students delight audiences with their latest staging of “Cactus Flower”
Lights out, spots on: since 1989, students at WHU have regularly slipped out of their business attire and into roles far removed from their business studies. Standing in the spotlight of the Students Theater Group – one of the 31 clubs for university students – in their latest production, “Cactus Flower” by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, the amateur actors of WHU once again demonstrated that they are not “over-focused academics” but can “think outside the economic box,” as director Till Wicher puts it. Wicher is enrolled at the Business School in Vallendar for the fourth semester of his Master degree program. He has been involved in the theater group since 2016. Why? “Particularly where the stressful side of studies is concerned, it’s a motivating balance to stand in the spotlight and slip into another role,” the 23-year-old explains, adding: “We enjoy the theater!”
Sebastian Schwärzler, a fourth-semester student pursuing his Master in Management, also notes the positive effects of the Students Theater Group on his own personality and character formation. “Among other things, I learned to budget my time better and set priorities,” reveals Schwärzler, who in the current production of “Cactus Flower” plays Norbert, a used-car salesman and man about town. The amateur actor’s experience in theater began by accident: “I had seen several performances and wanted to try it out myself. I may not have time for that once I begin my career.” At the same time, as director Wicher points out, student involvement strengthens the relationship between WHU and the people of Vallendar. Because: the performances are open to the public. Everyone is welcome to come and watch. This is an offer the public gladly takes up, as Wicher continues. The feedback is positive: “The people of Vallendar are delighted by our performances every time.”
This was already the case with the very first productions, which date back to an initiative by Philipp Burgtorf. The 1993 WHU alumnus was one of the first cohorts to attend the private university and had received instruction in acting and directing during a year abroad. Back in Vallendar, he founded the theater group. In the following years, students not only performed pieces by Sartre, Camus, Dürrenmatt or Shakespeare, but also some comedies, including works by Arnold/Bach and Simons.
The residents of Vallendar are surprised every time to see the professionalism and enthusiasm, but also the attention to detail the WHU students bring to their theater productions. In fact, the Students Theater Group enjoys a fabulous reputation even beyond the narrower boundaries of the city. Erich Glöckner of Niederwerth, for instance, has been to several performances. The culturally interested retiree has been attending university events ever since Angela Merkel visited WHU after replacing Gerhard Schröder as German chancellor, as the 68-year-old reveals: “I’ve very much enjoyed the Students Theater Group several times in the past. As a citizen, it’s nice to experience everything that’s going on at this university,” the islander applauds. It is important to maintain contacts between university students and their fellow citizens. “It would be sad if the students knew nothing but their university, so there is certainly room for a colorful mixture,” Glöckner says, adding: “Mutual acceptance and respect is an important factor in the coexistence between WHU and the local citizenry. In other student cities, such as Cologne and Bonn, I often see a colorful mix of students and residents. That’s something they should definitely maintaine and encourage here, too.”