Vesterheim Offers the 7th Annual Nordic Fest Theatre Program

Upstart Crow Theatreworks

Upstart Crow Theatreworks

DECORAH, Iowa —What is it like to live so far north the sun never sets in the summer, or shines in the winter? What is it like to travel for days and days and see nothing but snow and ice? The Sami people know, and so will children ages 9 to 13 when they participate in “Land of the Midnight Sun,” Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum’s 7th annual Nordic Fest summer theatre program with Upstart Crow Theatreworks.

Participants will step inside this ancient and mysterious culture and create a play to present during Nordic Fest. The project is directed by Kristen Underwood, founder of Upstart Crow Theatreworks and co-director of ArtHaus.

Workshop dates and times are Monday through Friday, July 13-24, 9 a.m. until noon. Performances are July 24 and 25 at Vesterheim’s Bethania Lutheran Church. The program is sponsored by Nick and Elida Rowley and Rowley Trial Law Firm.

Each day of the two-week program will include theatre warm-ups and games designed to build the skills needed for performance. Participants will use a tour of Vesterheim’s collection of Sami artifacts and other related exhibits, along with stories and music, to dive into one of the earth’s vanishing cultures and bring it to life on the stage.

Underwood has been a theatre professional for over 20 years. She earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder and her master of fine arts degree from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. As an actor, director, and teacher, Underwood has been involved in well over 100 productions for theatres throughout the country. Upstart Crow Theatreworks was founded in Decorah, Iowa, in 2002, offering theatre education and performance opportunities for students of all ages.

Cost for the program is $125, which includes all materials and snacks. Scholarships are available. To register, or for more information, contact Jennifer Kovarik at Vesterheim, 563-382-9681 or, or check online at

Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city.

From May 1 – Oct. 31, Vesterheim is open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. From Nov. 1 – April 30, Vesterheim is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., with hours extended until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays and is closed Monday. For more information on the museum’s exhibits, activities, and membership opportunities, consult Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 523 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.