North Central College senior directs “Wasteland” set during the Vietnam War

Oct 12, 2015

North Central College features the direction of senior Sean Michael Mohler Oct. 21, 22 and 24 in his rendition of “Wasteland,” a play by Susan Felder about two U.S. prisoners during the Vietnam War.

Three performances of “Wasteland” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, 22 and 24 in the theatre at Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St. Tickets are $5/adults and $3/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit

Set in underground prison cells during the Vietnam War, “Wasteland” is the story of Joe and Riley, two American soldiers who came from very different backgrounds but were imprisoned for years with no hope of rescue. In the production, only Joe is visible on stage and Riley, a disembodied voice, is on the other side of Joe’s cell wall. Together they endure the hardships of war, both nearly committing suicide but talked down by their comrade on the other side.

“Wasteland” premiered in 2012 to rave reviews at TimeLine Theatre in Chicago, where Mohler first viewed the play.

“This story has a personal connection for me; my father is a veteran of the Vietnam War,” says Mohler. “I think that’s a big factor in my desire to direct it. However, I believe this story is one that needs to be told today. It’s a powerful portrayal of two men who are in an absolutely horrific situation, yet they continue to persevere. They refuse to give up hope. They keep one another strong when there seems to be nothing to live for.”

Originally, Mohler planned to use Felder’s play for a final project in his directing course. But after reaching out to the playwright and receiving a section of the script, Mohler decided the story was too important for just a 10-minute project. Instead, he redesigned a full-length production and submitted a proposal to be one of the few student-directed productions at North Central for the 2015-2016 academic year.

“The characters in ‘Wasteland’ are so different on the surface, yet when they take the time to get to know one another, they are actually incredible comrades and a true support system,” says Mohler. “It is my hope that I can remind audiences to look past those surface differences and rediscover that human connection we all share.”

The cast for “Wasteland” is (role, name, town, year, major):
Joe: Brody Long of Hawthorn Woods, a freshman majoring in musical theatre and psychology
Riley: Tyler Meyers of Elmwood, a freshman majoring in theatre and communication

The crew is (role, name, town, year, major):
Director: Sean Michael Mohler of Machesney Park, a senior majoring in musical theatre, theatre and psychology
Stage manager: Emily Marrazzo of Algonquin, a sophomore majoring in theatre
Scenic designer: Tom Noesen of Westchester, a junior majoring in theatrical design and technology
Lighting: Ruby Lowe of Aurora, a sophomore majoring in theatrical design and technology
Sound: Kate Sanderson of St. Charles a senior majoring in theatrical design and technology
Costume: Bri Perry of Plainfield, a senior majoring in musical theatre and theatrical design and technology
Props: Lexii Gravis of Montgomery, a freshman studying musical theatre and organizational communication
Publicity: D.J. Wohead of Lemont, a sophomore majoring in interactive media studies

In North Central’s Student Director 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. Mohler’s is one of three selected for the year.