Northeast theater staff create work of art


Marissa Lute and Llolanda Hernandez

There is a tree growing on the stage of Cox Activities Theater at Northeast Community College. It is the centerpiece for this fall’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by theater instructor, Adam Peterson, his students, and the Norfolk Community Theater.

Northeast Theatre tree


Peterson said, “We thought to ourselves what can we do to really make that presence happen on stage. There are a lot of fairies in the show, so we decided let’s give the fairies a good home. That is kind of where the concept of the tree grew out of.”

Sue Jochum adding branches to the Northeast Community College Theater tree
Sue Jochum adding branches to Northeast Community College Theater tree

Peterson made an exact scale model of the stage, tree, and where the tree would be in relation to the actors. Then master carpenter, Roger Jochum, brought his ideas to life with the help of his wife, Sue, who is the scenic artist.


The frame was built using 2-by-4’s that have been stuffed with newsprint paper donated by the Norfolk Daily News.  Then the frame was covered and sculpted with foam donated by Wisnieski Insulation. The leaves are made of two pieces of tissue paper glued together with a wire used to connect them to real twigs.

Northeast theatre staff making leaves with tissue paper, wire, and twigs
Northeast theatre staff making leaves with tissue paper, wire, and twigs

Peterson says the tree was designed to be an integral part of the play. “Roger actually worked out the details on how to construct it and keep it balanced. Actors do need to be able to hang off branches and crawl up and peek over the top.”


The tree is impressive, reaching almost to the ceiling with two levels. “In theater we have something called the 15-foot rule which means it only needs to look good from 15-feet away. You can get right next to this and it looks good.” Unfortunately, Peterson says, the tree won’t be saved once the play is finished. Moving it would destroy the foam, so saws will be used to cut it apart.

That means, the only time that you will be able to see this magical tree is October 1-3, 8-10 at 7:30 p.m. and October 4 at 2 p.m. Adult tickets are $15.00 in advance or $18.00 at the door. Student tickets are $10.00 in advance or $13.00 at the door. You can reserve your tickets online at the Norfolk Community Theatre website.