College’s Student Directed Series showcases direction by senior Erik Burke in “True West”

Jan 11, 2015

North Central College’s Student Directed Series features the drama “True West,” written by celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard and directed by senior Erik Burke Feb. 5-7.

Three performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 5, 6 and 7 in North Central’s Madden Theatre at the Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. Tickets are $5/adults and $3/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

In “True West,” two estranged brothers find themselves forced to collaborate on writing a Hollywood screenplay. The script is a character study of the two men as they try to find their identity and place in the world despite their tense relationship, abusive upbringing and complicated past. Considered one of Shepard’s finest plays, “True West” premiered in 1980, one year before he earned a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Shepard also is a noted director and stage and film actor, starring in “Steel Magnolias,” “Pelican Brief, “The Notebook” and more.

Burke, of Monroe, Mich., is a theatre major and has performed in multiple North Central productions throughout his collegiate career, including “Way to Heaven,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Sin,” “The Threepenny Opera,” and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Macbeth.”

In his adaptation of “True West,” Burke outlines several themes, including the curse of family, the fallibility of the American dream and the conflict between the “new West” and “old West.” Burke believes these themes are not only relevant to college students, but to the wider world, too.

“Discovering one’s self identity is what stands out most to students,” says Burke. “This play deconstructs the notion that one thing can really change an identity.”

The cast for “True West” includes (role, actor, town, year, major):

Austin: John Jack Lindberg of St. Charles, a freshman majoring in musical theatre
Lee: Alex Moerer of Waverly, Iowa, a sophomore majoring in theatre and broadcast communication
Saul: Chris Corrigan of Naperville, a freshman majoring in theatre
Mom: Erin Keegan of Downers Grove, a sophomore majoring in theatre

In North Central’s Student Directed Series, members of the College’s theatre faculty invite students to submit a proposal to direct their own theatrical productions and only the best are chosen. Burke’s is one of three selected for the year.

North Central College offers majors in theatre or musical theatre and a minor in dance. A full range of acting and dance classes is available, as well as opportunities to direct a full-length production. Students of all majors can participate in musical and nonmusical performances, actor showcases and one-act plays and performances in the College’s four theatre venues. Full-time professors and active professionals who are artist-teachers serve as faculty.