Review: THIS IS MY BODY at Augustana University Theatre

A World Premiere production

By: Mar. 01, 2024
Review: THIS IS MY BODY at Augustana University Theatre
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

The World Premiere of THIS IS MY BODY by Grace Ahles, Hanna Beshai, and Richard W. Swanson at Edith Mortenson Centre theatre is a throughtfully presented piece of theatrical collaboration. It should be noted with some studied admiration,  that the set is a masterful work of construction and design. The sound and lighting aspects throughout the ninety minute play are esthetically and emotionally appropriate to the literature presented. The use of quilts and quilt-like backdrops were colorful and appealing, and lent a sense of tradition, cultural connection and comfort in some very dramatic scenes. Jacee Casarella has designed and created an idyllic haven of safe examination of some  emotional origin stories with some noteable  “heavy lifting” from Neil Peltier, Lead Carpenter. The props and costumes were equally impressive and created the authenticity of time and place that this play needed for the vast task of sharing generational stories like the ones woven through this work of theatrical literature..  

The collaboration of Ahles, Beshai and Swanson is an admirable journey of storytelling with the intent to shed some  light on the way we all come to “be”.  It aptly communicates the philosophy that we as humans, are essentially  the sum of our family histories, as well as our own experiences. Our strengths, our vulnerabilities are carried through generations, and it brought to mind the Buddhist concept of karma and what happens to us as we set forth certain energies into the universe.  Themes of justice, forgiveness  and perseverance are all equally explored. In the “braiding” of stories. In the case of the “strand” of a newly diagnosed character with ALS, there is not enough background of personal connection to make the audience feel the emotional   gravity of that revelation. If there were cuts to that storyline, they should be reintroduced to the script so that the audience can “latch on” to that strand.

The production is directed by Jayna Gearhart Fitzsimmon; Augustana faculty and storytelling collaborator, and she creates appropriately measured pace and manages the performances with sensitivity and intellectual candor. There were menacing blocking choices of perpetrators, as well as  conversely gentle and endearing physical contact of  actors on stage.  The performances of the core actors in this piece  are strong representations of character and the ensemble does admirable work in presenting some beautiful supporting characters while being instrumental in keeping the momentum and feel of the piece moving forward.  

Theatre audiences will find some mature and possibly disturbing content in the scenes depicting trauma and sexual violence.  The notes from the playwrights indicate the stories told in the performance are true, and sometimes happened to people “they know.”   I commend them all for sharing this theatrical piece with writing that is honest, voices that sound authentic on stage, and with a patience for the process of creating.  The Sioux Falls audiences of theatre will surely benefit from your talents on our area stages.  

Tickets for THIS IS MY BODY are available by going online to   and clicking on the  GET TICKETS link.  This show will present again March  1 and 2 at 7:30  pm as well as March 2 and 3  at  2:30 pm.