2015-2016 Season,  The Taste of Sunrise

“Taste of Sunrise” Take-Aways from Cast Members (Part 2)

by Haley Flanders

The cast and Julia Ashworth (director) and Heather Richardson (stage manager) embrace the playwright Suzan Zeder (center) at the final performance of the show, this past Saturday, March 26. She attended the show since it was part of the “Theatre in Our Schools” Conference, and she was the keynote speaker. All three of the plays in the trilogy were performed or featured as a staged reading at the conference held at BYU March 25-26.

As promised, here is the second and final installment of the take-aways from the cast. The previous blog post featured six of the cast members, and this post will feature another six! During the final post-show discussion, an audience member asked the cast to share the things they have learned and felt by creating and performing this piece of theatre together. Since only a few could share, luckily we have this blog to give you more insight int the individual experiences of various cast members. Enjoy!

1602-28 058 Play the Taste of Sunrise publicity February 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 4067Katie Hyatt plays the role of Emma Flynn.

“I would like to be a drama therapist using plays, such as The Taste of Sunrise, to empower communities and schools to be inclusive and overcome the common struggles that hard situations create. I believe I will be able to help communities become inclusive and accepting through these experiences.”


12246655_10206935532818232_2316194396767906031_nJason Keeler plays the role of Roscoe and the signer for Jonas Tucker.

“I hope to be accepted into the supply chain program or either Recreational management. Nevertheless I hope my life will still greatly involve opportunities in the Deaf world.”


12705306_1683890208535109_2386289121032772808_nBrooklyn Downs plays the role of Maizie’s voice and signer. 

“I am currently working on my missionary application and will be expecting my call in a few weeks. I hope to be able to have more opportunities to do shows at BYU as well as be more involved in the Deaf community.”



Lizzie Mickelsen plays the role of Izzy Sue Ricks, along with various workers at the Central Institute for the Deaf.

“I want to keep being involved in theatre.  I’m still finding where I fit in this wacky world, but I love costume and makeup design.  The more opportunities I have to design the more I fall in love with the craft.  Being able to help bring stories like this to life would be a dream.”

12565640_10153861810199919_2437488580781122779_nChristina Hernandez plays the roles of the signer for Dr. Alexis Graham and a student at the Central Institute for the Deaf.

“I have often imagined myself being a theatre teacher, and last semester I even thought about being a theatre teacher within a Deaf school/community. I am currently a theatre arts studies major, thinking minoring in both TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other language) and communications. I want to always have theatre in my life. Auditioning for plays as often as I can and trying to be in a production each year, at least. I want to go to another country and teach English, and use my background in theatre as often as possible. Theatre really is a part of me, and ASL is starting to be the same.”

8167_871596879604493_503135574572893630_nElyse Allen plays the role of the signer for Izzy Sue Ricks and a student at the Central Institute for the Deaf.

My future aspirations include gaining my BFA in acting, becoming fluent in ASL and doing my best to be happy and follow the Lord’s plan for me. (She just received her mission call and will serve in ASL).

1602-28 477 Play the Taste of Sunrise publicity February 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 4551

Jake Earnest plays the role of Jonas Tucker. 

“My experience working on this show has been incredible. I learned the beauty of sign language, and it instilled a desire in me to learn it fluently. What makes a show really great is the relationships you gain throughout the process. I will cherish those most of all. The message of the show became deep and important to me, and as time progressed I realize that I did not have to act like Jonas much, for his life had become part of me. I really felt a fatherly care for Tuc, and it became harder to leave him at school every night. But this made the show a stronger and grander experience for me and hopefully others.”

Now enjoy the rest of the interview with these cast members!

1) What life lessons or theatre tips have you learned from being a part of this show?

1602-28 170 Play the Taste of Sunrise publicity February 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 4190Katie H: I have always felt that the world focus to much on what we can’t do. I hate the word disability as I often look at people who have that label and admire what they are able to do that I am not. This play has helped me to understand what that can mean in the deaf community and to really understand a perspective that see’s there disadvantage as something to be accepted and embraced, because “some things are so beautiful they don’t need sound.”

Jason K: I learned a great deal of improvising in situations and not coming out of characters. You learn to never leave your character. Thats what I feel like I understood more of myself. Have i done things out of character and what were those moments? I learned we need to spend a great deal of time learning about ourselves to understand who we are.

Brooklyn D: I have learned a lot about communication — in English, ASL, and not even in official languages. You can communicate with your eyes or body. I also have learned a lot about collaboration and working together with others to make a beautiful product.

Lizzie M: One of the many lessons I am taking away from this show is that theatre is capable of healing people.  One of the rehearsals where this show really clicked for me was when Julia described this as a “healing show”. Theatre allows us as audience members to create emotional connections to what we are viewing on stage.  We see ourselves in the characters and relate experiences we have had to the events being performed.  Sometimes these connects are so strong, that we can resolve inner conflicts and let go of things that have been troubling our minds.  We can find resolutions to real life problems through theatre and most importantly, it can heal our hearts.  I think very few things have that ability to do that.

Christina H: To be honest, I’ve learned just how much Heavenly Father truly cares about each of his children. Being a part of this production was definitely an answer to prayer for me. I know that I’ve been blessed to acquire a cast family as amazing as The Taste of Sunrise cast. I constantly learn and see the immense kindness that people have. This has been the most loving cast I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve definitely re-learned that love truly is the most powerful force on Earth. Additionally, I’ve been able to see just how healing this show has been. Our rehearsals became a place where we could come and heal. It was an open space that we could all be honest and let go of our troubles and worries. This play has become a part of me.

Elyse A: I’ve learned how important it is to make connections between people off stage as well as on. I’ve also learned that sometimes you get very unexpected blessings from being in this show – namely a mission call in which I’ll be using ASL.

2) What do you hope the audience takes away from witnessing this show?

1602-28 284 Play the Taste of Sunrise publicity February 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 4325Katie H: A better understanding of those who are seen to have a disadvantage mostly because they do not have a voice, due to their race, disabilities, situation, or age. I want create a better understanding of both sides of the minorities vs majorities discussion. I hope that that message is taken in by both the hearing AND deaf communities. I believe both need to work on listening to each other. Most of all I want the audience to walk away feeling the connection that listening can provide.

Jason K: I hope the audience comes to understand more about the importance of communication. I hope they also develop an awareness of the deaf community and its a wonderful culture.

Brooklyn D: I hope that hearing audiences members will be able to get a little taste and a little more information about Deaf culture and the Deaf community. I hope that deaf audience members will enjoy that they will be able to understand everything without needing an “interpreter” or reading the script as the show is happening.

Lizzie M: I hope the audience is touched by this story and finds a way to incorporate the lessons it teaches into their own lives.  I hope that they will give people who seem to be different a chance to be heard and welcomed.  I hope they can find the inner strength to forgive those who have hurt them the most.  I hope that they will look for the positive in the world around them.  I hope they will taste the sunrise.

Christina H: I hope the audience leaves feeling enlightened. I want them to all experience a new culture. I want them to feel what it’s like to be Tuc–to witness the struggle to communicate and carry that with them. This show is all about light. We can each be a light to other, and we can always seek out that light. This play is about a journey and finding oneself. It is about how it takes great effort to communicate and connect with others. I hope the audience leaves and wants to try to reach out more to those people who may be different than they are–or who may communicate in a different way. To be honest, I hope a few amazing souls leave this show and want to learn sign language. I just want them to leave thinking in some sort of way different than when they first sat down in the theatre.

Elyse A: I hope the audience takes a love of the characters and an openness to those around them. I hope they take an awareness of others from it and how to help them and how to love them. I also hope they take a love for ASL with them!

3) What were some of your favorite and/or most challenging parts about being in this show?

1602-28 501 Play the Taste of Sunrise publicity February 16, 2016 Photography by: Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo Copyright BYU Photo 2016 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu (801)422-7322 4580Katie H: My favorite is the connection we’ve made as a cast. We are a family, created by an environment of inclusion regardless of ASL skill, acting experience, or any other limitations. I would also say that it was that inclusion that allowed us all to overcome our challenges. I observed growth in all of the cast.

Jason K: Personally my favorite parts is where we spend so much time understanding the character. What he do? what would he think? I love discovering the character.

Brooklyn D: Some of my favorite parts included the shadowing and interacting of counterparts. That also was one of the hardest parts: having the shadowing work well enough that it makes sense that 2 people represent one character, as well as all the signing is visible from every angle. And I truly enjoyed being able to both voice and sign.

Lizzie M: This show is unlike anything I have ever done and was an incredible challenge.  The logistics of this show are insane.  We took the approach of creating two show: one with the signers and one without.  Once the show with the signers was complete we added in the signers and started to work with meshing the two worlds.  It was difficult and frustrating and at times we had no idea where to go next.  But I think in the end we are able to create something together that is beautiful in a very unique way. My favorite thing about this show without a doubt is the incredible people I have had the opportunity of working with.  The entire cast is a huge family and I think that helps us with our onstage chemistry.  The interpreters and teachers from the ASL community have been so patient and loving.  Our director, Julia, has put her whole heart and soul into this show.  This allowed us as actors to do the same, and it shows.

Christina H: So, currently, I am only in ASL 102–the second class of ASL I’ve ever been in. My knowledge of sign language going in was quite limited. It scared me so much that I’d have to sign all these crazy long lines, and medical terms. I felt like a dear in headlights at first. I also struggled with finding just exactly how I fit into the play….if I was an interpreter or what? I absolutely loved it when we became “signers” and not interpreters. We had a few rehearsals where just the signers did the scenes and the voicers watched. That was the coolest experience ever. I will always treasure that because it helped me to truly become Dr. Graham.

Elyse A: My favorite part was making connections with all of the wonderful people. The most challenging part is being confident with signing on stage.


Thank you for visiting the dramaturgy blog for The Taste of Sunrise. We hope you had a chance to witness this production. Playwright Suzan L. Zeder said it was truly the finest and most powerful production of her play she has ever seen, and that Ben Featherstone is her favorite Tuc! It’s safe to say she loved it, that the audiences are moved by the story, and that the cast has truly become a close family through the creation and performance of this beautiful story. Until we meet again, fellow theatre-goers!

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