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The White Rose

The White Rose
Written by Lillian Groag
Directed by Russell Vandenbroucke

Scenic and Lighting Design Michael Hottois
Costume Design Donna Lawrence-Downs
Sound Design Garry Brown
Multimedia Design Kathryn Spivey
Stage Manager John Penn Browning

The White Rose is presented by special arrangement with
Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

World Premiere at the Old Globe Theatre
San Diego, California


Jacobene Schmidt, caretaker at the university Ashley McKenzie
Hans Scholl, student Patrick Taft
Sophie Scholl, student Margaret Streeter
Anton Mahler, Gestapo investigator Michael Mayes
Robert Mohr, head of Munich Gestapo Will Crawford
Bauer, Mohr's adjutant Eric Knoppkie
Alexander Schmorell, student Matt Klemenz
Christoph Probst, student Patrick Alred
Willi Graff, student Derek Wahle


Munich, 1942-43


Then and Now: The White Rose
"All young people object to their government at one time or another," observes Robert Mohr in The White Rose. Recently promoted to lead the state police in Munich, the pinnacle of his twenty-five year career, he is speaking of Germany in 1943, but his observation holds for other times and places. What should patriots do when conscience beckons them to oppose the state, even break its laws? We still revere thieves masquerading as Native Americans at the Boston Tea Party of 1773, and we admire college students arrested for sitting in at the segregated lunch counters of Nashville and Greensboro in 1960. What should a civil servant like Mohr do when his family depends on his paycheck for enforcing laws enacted by a government supported by the majority of fellow citizens? Who among us has risked life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by embracing ideas or pursuing ideals? Mohr is a decent family man enmeshed in a personal, professional, and moral quandary that spirals into existential crisis. It isn't easy to be good.     Playwright Lillian Groag observes, "most of us are Robert Mohr." Henry David Thoreau offers similar insight in Walden, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Thoreau's solitude beside that famous pond reflected his rugged individualism, that quintessentially American quality. But he embraced collective action too: "A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight." In 1846, on the eve of the U.S.-Mexican War, Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a poll tax. He saw the imminent war as an immoral means to expand slavery. In “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” he declared, "when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize." Rebels and revolutionaries exist throughout the world and across the arc of history: Contemporary jihadists also place ideas and ideals ahead of life itself while pursuing their fundamentalist beliefs, but they differ fundamentally from Thoreau: They embrace violence while he did not.  Thoreau's nonviolence--civil disobedience in action since pacifism is not merely passive--has inspired generations:  Gandhi while leading India to independence and King as he roused a reluctant nation to inch towards freedom and equality for all. Assassins killed each, but dedicated compatriots continued the nonviolent struggle. They were not alone in succeeding:

Catholic nuns trained by Gene Sharp, the world's leading expert on nonviolence and social change helped bring down Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986;
Civil resistance led to the end of military rule in Chile in 1988;
Lech Wałęsa did not attend college, but he studied Gandhi while leading Poland's Solidarity movement;
Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution used principles of Gandhi and Sharp;
After decades of strife, apartheid ended nonviolently in South     Africa;   
Serbia's Milošević was brought down by a two-year strike;
Georgia's Revolution of the Rose succeeded in 2003;

and, if these victories seem easy since the opponents were vastly different from the one The White Rose opposed, Denmark successfully resisted Nazi occupation through strategic slowdowns and noncooperation. Nonviolence is rarely taken seriously as a viable means to worthwhile ends, but perhaps public opinion will soon follow the lead of scholarship.  This year's winners of our university’s Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order are Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, authors of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Non-Violent   Conflict. Examining data spanning more than a century, they conclude that non-violent campaigns succeed twice as often as violent ones--even against brutal regimes. Moral issues aside, nonviolence is strategically effective.  (Chenoweth and Stephan visit campus April 10.) I believe that popular opinion is slowly shifting behind research like Chenoweth and Stephan's. UofL's newest academic program--an     undergraduate certificate in Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation--joins 400 others in Peace and Conflict studies created since 1948.  (See for more.) Imagine the time when: men and women wishing to right wrongs and solve conflict tacitly assume nonviolence is the means to do so: and, unlike today, the burden of proof lies with those who foment war rather than oppose it; and the impassioned idealism of young people, like those in The White Rose, lead a nation out of a morass and towards a more perfect union.


Russell Vandenbroucke (Director) ran or helped to run professional theatres in Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles before joining UofL as Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts in 2001. As a producer, director, playwright, or dramaturg he has premiered scores of new American plays and was the dramaturg at the inception of the Sundance Playwrights Conference. His plays include: Eleanor: In Her Own Words, which won an Emmy and was broadcast by PBS; Atomic Bombers, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima and later opened Northlight Theatre's permanent home in the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts; School Play, inspired by the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. The Board of Education; and Soldiers Circle. His adaptation in verse of The Trojan Women by Euripides premiered at UofL in 2004. Holiday Memories, his adaptation of two Truman Capote stories, has been produced at scores of theatres throughout the country. Books include Truths the Hand Can Touch: The Theatre of Athol Fugard, Contemporary Australian Plays (editor), and The Theatre Quotation Book: A Treasury of Insights and Insults. As a stage director and member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, he has mounted productions in California, Virginia, Indiana, St. Louis, and his  native Chicago. The White Rose continues the commitment throughout his theatre career to work that juxtaposes the private lives of characters with their public role as citizens. Vandenbroucke has been a Fulbright Scholar in Australia and a World Peace Fellow at the Rotary Center for Peace and Conflict Studies in Bangkok Thailand. In addition to his work in Theatre Arts, he serves as Director of UofL's new program in Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation created with the support of J. Blaine Hudson, recently deceased and much missed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Michael Hottois (Scenic and Lighting Design) is the resident Scenic and Lighting Designer for the Theatre Arts Department. Michael has designed well over 300 major productions with some of his favorites being Woyzeck, Ring ‘Round the Moon, Metamorphoses, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Uncle Vanya. Over the past few summers he designed Always, Patsy Cline; All Shook Up; The Producers; Ain't Misbehavin'; and No, No, Nanette for the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in New York. His credits as a scenic artist include the films Boris and Natasha and Closetland, as well as Soul of the Game for HBO. He is a member of United Scenic Artists Union, Local 829.

Donna Lawrence-Downs (Costume Design) has designed over 325 shows for different theatres, including Stage One, Music Theatre Louisville,    Pandora Productions, Walden Theatre, Centre Stage, Derby Dinner Theatre, and the Little Theatre on the Square. Donna has opened her own costume shop as well as a bakery and is employed by Louisville Ballet as head draper. A Pennsylvania native, Donna has an MFA from Penn State in costume design and technology.

Garry Brown (Sound Design), Production Manager for UofL Theatre Arts,   supervises the production of scenery, properties, lighting, and sound. His design and production experience locally includes the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Stage One: Louisville Children’s Theatre, and Music Theatre Louisville. He holds an MFA from the University of   Memphis and teaches stagecraft, sound design, and welding.

Kathryn Spivey (Multimedia Design), is a junior Theatre Arts major. She earned her AA in Fine Arts from Hinds Community College, and is currently a carpenter in the Theatre Arts Department, where she has built scenery for Shakin’ the Mess outta Misery, Much Ado about Nothing, and Once on This Island. She has written, directed, and produced puppet shows and movies for Squallis Puppeteers. Her puppet movies have premiered at 21C Museum and on KET.

Patrick Alred (Christoph Probst), Louisville, KY, is making his performance debut at UofL. He earned his BA in History from the University of Kentucky. Past credits elsewhere include Philip Lombard in And Then There were None and Sneaky Fitch in The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch, both at Ballard High School, and Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Darlington School.

Will Crawford (Robert Mohr), Louisville, KY is making his performance debut at UofL. He earned his BFA from the College of Santa Fe and his MFA from the  University of San Diego. Past credits elsewhere include Willi Graf in The White Rose, Voltimand in Hamlet, and Mr Gill in The Show Off, all at the Old Globe Theatre, Punk Man in Where I’m Headed at the Gypsy Road Theatre Company, and Carl in Baltimore Waltz at the Itinerant Theatre Company.

Matt Klemenz (Alexander Schmorell), Louisville, KY, is a   senior Accounting major. He recently appeared as Police Officer in Bloody Mary (Studio Theatre).

Eric Knoppkie (Bauer), Bloomington, IN, is a freshman majoring in Education. He recently appeared as Verges in Much Ado about Nothing at UofL and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Owen Valley High School.

Ashley McKenzie (Jacobene Schmidt), Louisville, KY, is a senior Theatre Arts major. She recently  appeared as Edith in ‘Dentity Crisis (Studio Theatre), and served as Assistant Stage Manager for Once on This Island, Costume Crew for Shakin’ the Mess outta Misery, and Properties Crew for Atomic Bombers at UofL.

Michael K. Mayes (Anton Mahler), Louisville, KY, earned his BA in English from UofL.  Previous productions at UofL include Voice #3 in Betty’s     Summer Vacation, Oliver in As You Like It, Bradley Becker in  Soldiers Circle, and Charlie in All in the Timing. Past credits elsewhere include James in The Debate over Courtney O’Connell with Theatre 502, Matt in Dog Sees God with the Louisville Repertory Company, Gregorio in My Big Gay Italian Wedding with Pandora Productions, and Lord of the Underworld in Eurydice at The Alley Theatre.

Margaret Streeter (Sophie Scholl), Louisville, KY is a senior History major. This is her debut performance at UofL. Past credits elsewhere include Isabella in Measure for Measure and Dusty in Party Time, both at Bard College. She has performed in Louisville at Walden Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Stage One Family Theatre. She has also been a featured soloist with the Louisville Youth Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Louisville Bach  Society, and the Choral Arts Society.

Patrick Taft (Hans Scholl), Florence, KY, is a freshman English major. He recently appeared as Tom Carter in The Rivers under the Earth (Studio Theatre) and as Messenger in Much Ado about Nothing. Past credits elsewhere include Paul Blanchard in Moon over Buffalo at Paul Blazer High School, and Flick in A Christmas Story and Dr. Seward in Dracula, both with the Backstage Players.

Derek Wahle (Willi Graf), Louisville, KY, is a senior Theatre Arts major.  Past productions at UofL include various roles in Much Ado about Nothing, Klaus Fuchs in Atomic Bombers, and Bartholomew in A Night at the Restaurant (Studio Theatre).

John Browning (Stage Manager), Bowling Green, KY, is a senior Theatre Arts major. He recently served as House Manager for Plays: A Play, Light Board Operator for Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Properties Crew for Mad at Miles.


Assistant Director Gary Brice
Stage Manager John Penn Browning
Assistant Stage Managers Matthew Brown, Nick Dalton, Collin Sage
Technical Director Garry Brown
Production Supervisor Charles Nasby
Scenic Construction Elliot Cornett, Amos Dreisbach, Reese Fisher, Michelle Gentry, Braden McCampbell, Collin Sage, Kathryn Spivey
TA 241 Stagecraft II
Production Buyer Robert McCracken
Costume Shop Manager Melissa Shepherd
Assistant to Costume Designer James Thompson
Wardrobe Master James Coomer
Costume Buyer James Thompson
Costume Construction James Coomer, Amy Davis, Jennifer Siow, James Thompson, Gina Vito
Wardrobe Crew Hannah Greene
Properties Manager Megg Ward
Master Electricians Emily McGlawn, Mo Stucker
Lighting Operator Grace Bors
Sound Engineer Derek Wahle
Sound & Media Operator Jacob Bolton
Box Office Manager Melanie Henry
Box Office Staff David Galloway, Travis Stolp, Laurent Street, Candice Tempel
House Manager Briana Hyman
Poster Design Steve Skaggs

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