Joshua Troxler is one of those incredible (read: maddening) people who does it all and does it all well. Not yet 25-years-old, Troxler has acted, directed, curated art shows at a new local gallery, and had his own artwork featured in group and one-man shows. An obvious lover of the arts-as-a-whole, Troxler doesn't hesitate to make known his favorite an first passion: theater. It doesn't take a long time in his company to realize how passionate he is about people and about stories.
His most recent play, "The Great North," "is really a play about the process of writing a story and, in doing so, the demons you're forced to face as a writer," he said.
Because the Lycoming College theater department will perform Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" from Feb. 13 through Feb. 16, there haven't been roles for male students on campus while the all-female cast prepares. Troxler, a recent graduate of Lycoming College with a degree in art, is still quite active in the school's theater department (he played the leading character, "'Mack' the Knife," in the department's last production, Bertolt Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera.") He saw the single production and temporary lack of male roles as an opportunity. "School theater departments that flourish are the ones that have student productions," he said.
“The Great North,” an original play by area resident and Lycoming College alumni Joshua Troxler, will be performed Feb. 1 and 2 in the “Dragon’s Lair” theater, located under the Mary L. Welch Theatre, at Lycoming College.
Troxler met with some friends who he's worked with in the past on productions to look over some full-length plays that could be entirely student-run and give some male students a chance to perform.
"All the plays we looked at were very difficult to do technically, so the idea was thrown out there that since I had experience writing my first full-length play, 'Cowboy Art,' I could write something that would fit the space," he said. So he set to work for several months, the product of which was "The Great North."
"The play is a sort of mystery," Troxler explained, though it certainly isn't some sort of Agatha Christie whodunit. "The Great North's" protagonist is an author with a history of addiction who decides to take her unfinished novel and her husband to their cabin to not only finish the book, but invite her husband into the world she's creating.
"When I'm writing, I really only share that with one person, and that's [my wife] Casey," he said. "Some authors tend to keep it to themselves the entire time ... You make yourself vulnerable as a writer; your past comes to haunt you. You really face the phrase 'you cannot escape your past.' "
Troxler grew up all over the East Coast of the United States, living everywhere from Boston to North Carolina. He even spent several years in Kazakhstan with his family while his father worked with the Kazakhstani government improving the health care system.
When asked if the "North" in the play's title refers to the American north, or the Kazakhstani north, Troxler said that while the play was definitely influenced by his time in Massachusetts, it is sufficient to know that the action takes place in "a forest." That placelessness and isolation undoubtedly adds to the play's sense of internal tension, something Troxler set out to explore while creating his characters.
Playing some of those characters will be Lycoming College students Molly Collier (in the role of the protagonist), Alyssa Allen, McKenzie LeFever and Nathan Bahn.
The play will be directed by student Tobias Anderson. While Troxler, cast and crew have creative control over the project, they move forward with the full support of the Lycoming College theater department and its head, N.J. Stanley.
Knowing that the production of "The Vagina Monologues" would create a need for male roles on campus, Stanley's only requirement for the student production was that Troxler and Anderson hold open auditions for the play's male characters. Troxler expressed a great amount of gratitude not only toward the college's theater department, but toward the cast and crew as well.
"No one is getting credit for this; every practice is an act of love," he said.
"The Great North" will be performed 7:30 and 11 p.m. Feb. 1 and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 in Lycoming College's "Dragon's Lair," located under the Mary L. Welch Theatre in the Academic Center. Admission will be free. For more information about "The Great North" and Lycoming College's Theatre Department, call the college box office at 321-4048.