Theatre B show reflects life’s random connections

Jon Leiseth directs the cast of Theatre B’s production, “This Random World,” opening Friday, May 2, and running through May 19. (Photo/Nancy Hanson.)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Theatre B is wrapping up a successful season of professional theatre with a production that explores serendipity and missed connections. “This Random World,” a play that debuted just eight years ago, blends moments of comedy and serious reflection as it asks a serious question: How often do we travel parallel paths through life without noticing?
“When I first saw the script, I knew this was the one for me,” says director Jon Leiseth, who was chosen for that task shortly after the season was announced 12 months ago. “I love theatre that crosses back and forth between funny and not funny. I’m intrigued by how lives are interconnected in ways we’re sometimes aware of and sometimes not. Each character is trying to connect with the people around them in more significant ways … and often failing abysmally.”
From an ailing woman who plans one final trip, to her daughter planning one great escape and her son falling prey to a prank gone wrong, this funny, intimate, and heartbreaking play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach of our own. “When we do connect,” the director says, “it’s often in a way we didn’t see coming.”
The production opens Friday, May 2, and runs for the next three weekends. The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays (May 2, 9 and 16) and Saturdays (May 3, 10 and 17). Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. May 4, 11 and 18. All are staged in Theatre B’s quarters at 215 10th St. N.
This is the second play Leiseth has directed for the community’s only professional theatre. The last, “The Roommate,” was the last to be staged before the COVID pandemic upset all plans. Earlier, he appeared on its stage twice 15 years ago – in “Murderers” and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.”
He spent four years on staff at Concordia College as a theatre and vocation counselor during his 20 years as a full-time teaching artist there and at St. Catherine’s, St. Thomas and Century Colleges in Minnesota and Fairfield University in Connecticut. He spent four years as a theatre and vocation counselor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
All that was before he was called to be what he calls “a second-career minister.” He rejoined the college in 2016 as a deacon after graduating from Luther Seminary, a role he has played on the campus ever since.
“This Random World” features six members of the company: Beth Ward, Mary Cochran, Ayden Smith, Crystal Cossette Knight, Charlie Williamson, Whitney McClain and Andrew Johnson.
Also prominent throughout the play is a series of original artworks by Concordia professor of music Annett Richter. Images of her evocative abstract paintings – alcohol ink on hop paper – are cast on the background during each scene, setting the mood and reacting to enhance the drama unfolding there.
“This is a multi-generational play for adults, including young adults,” Theatre B executive director Colt Reinhardt observes. “Some characters are in the initial stages of trying to find their way. They’re the children of an older woman who is facing the end of life.
“I hope the audience leaves feeling multiple emotions,” he adds. “I hope they feel seen and heard. They’ll have experienced a really human story together – something we sadly lost during the pandemic. Being among others as you experience it is a truly nourishing experience.”
He adds, “This is a play about renewal, about continuation. It’s a true spring play – discovering new growth and possibilities.”
The theatre, too, is experiencing growth. Neidhardt says the current season has set an all-time record. “We set an all-time record for the number of season passes that were sold – almost all of them,” he says. “But there’s still room for more. It’s very important for our ensemble to see and feel the enthusiasm of our audiences … and also important for the theatre itself.
“As the only theatre in Fargo-Moorhead that pays everyone involved, that financial support is critical. Costs are going up for us, too.”
The Theatre B board of directors has already selected four shows for the coming season and hired directors to head each production. “We’ll be announcing them shortly,” Neidhardt promises. Rehearsals are slated to begin this summer.
He recommends that those planning to see “This Random World” reserve their tickets now by calling the box office at 701.729.8880; it is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, as well as one hour before curtain time on the days of performances. They can also be ordered online at

Theatre B | Rearranging the furniture of your mind.
Note that many streets around Theatre B are blocked by road construction. The easiest way to reach it may be to take First Avenue North to Ninth Street, then turn east and follow it to the corner of Second Avenue.

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