Lakeland wrestlers star in "Mockingbird"
Athletics - posted on 10/26/2009
On the average fall day, you can usually find Lakeland College wrestlers practicing in the Wehr Center Field House.
However, this Thursday through Sunday, six Muskie wrestlers will perform in another arena - the Bradley Fine Arts Theatre - for the Lakeland College Theatre production of "To Kill a Mockingbird," a play based on the classic Harper Lee novel.
Sophomore Rob Frias (Oak Lawn, Ill.) will play the part of Dill, a friend of Scout and her brother, Jem. The story centers on how these children refuse to learn hatred and, in so doing, learn to make their corner of the world a better place.
"Dill is the secondary character that is always on stage with two of the main characters, Scout and Jem," said Frias, who wrestles at 133 pounds. "Basically, my character helps move the plot along by giving it some flavor and curiosity at certain parts."
Frias' classmate, Rob Forgette (Menominee, Mich.), will play Heck Tate, the town sheriff. Forgette, who is slated to wrestle at 184 pounds this season, also played a part in last spring's production of the musical "Camelot."
Forgette recruited Frias and four other wrestlers - juniors Isaac Roberson (Chicago, Ill.) and Gary Pieper (Adell, Wis.), sophomore Jake Montie (Oconto Falls, Wis.) and freshman Ryan Renon (De Pere, Wis.) - to join him for "Mockingbird."
"Last year when I started doing it I was the only wrestler involved," Forgette said. "I got Rob Frias involved, then everyone else saw us doing it, and we needed extra guys. We started asking around and everyone got involved as a team activity."
Roberson, Pieper, Montie and Renon are cast as townspeople in the production.
Both Frias and Forgette mentioned the rigor of adding a three-to-four hour rehearsal to a day of classes, work and wrestling practice. However, Frias said it makes his days "a little more regimented," and Forgette said he is able to get everything done despite arriving home later every night.
In addition to their teammates and fellow cast members, the six student-athletes also have the support of coach Pete Rogers, who is entering his ninth season at Lakeland.
"It's a really nice thing for our guys to get involved in other places around campus," Rogers said. "They are embracing the idea of the well-rounded student-athlete. It's a positive thing for our program, and I hope the involvement continues."
Frias noted the similarities between participating on a wrestling team and in a theatre production, especially from a mental standpoint.
"You have a lot of people counting on you," Frias said. "They're hoping you're dependable, showing up at rehearsal and getting your lines down. It's kind of like being conditioned and well-prepared for a match. Basically, the productions themselves are like big matches, or that's the way I think about it. If you're not prepared, you're not going to execute your lines well, just like you wouldn't execute moves well."
The play, which is set in Macomb, Ala., in 1935, is told through the eyes of Scout, who narrates the play as an adult in this production.
Performances are scheduled for Oct. 29-31 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 1 for a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 non-Lakeland students.
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