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Northwest Iowa Review on Yellow Rose Productions

“A Sioux Center native is using theatre to raise awareness about social justice issues.” – Dan Breen, Northwest Iowa Review

Danielle-KerriKerri Koczen, a native of Long Island, NY, and Danielle Roos, a native of Sioux Center, have started Yellow Rose Productions in Knoxville, TN. The two are interested in raising awareness to social justice issues at the theatre.


BY DAN BREEN STAFF WRITER KNOXVILLE, TN—A Sioux Center native is using theatre to raise awareness about social justice issues.

Danielle Roos founded the Yellow Rose Productions theatre company last fall in Knoxville, TN. The 25-year-old is preparing for her third production May 30. “Princess Cut” tells the true story of a young girl’s horrifying experience of being thrown into a sex trafficking ring by a family member in Knoxville. Roos wrote the original script with her Yellow Rose Productions partner Kerri Koczen and another theatre acquaintance, Kelsey Broyles. A friend of Broyles is the main subject in the production.“That’s been an incredible experience,” Roos said. “We hope it really takes off and raises people’s awareness of how often this stuff can happen and how close it is to home.” Her journey from student to production company owner could be considered an incredible experience as well.

Roos grew up in Mount Vernon, WA, before moving to Sioux Center right before fifth grade. She always has had a love for the stage and was heavily involved in theatre at Unity Christian High School in Orange City. The 2006 high school graduate played the lead role in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” her senior year. Her acting career continued at Dordt College in Sioux Center, but by her sophomore year she already was developing a fondness for directing. “I realized I just love the directing side of it,” Roos said. “I still love the acting side as well, but the directing side started becoming something I want to put more energy into.”

After graduation she continued the work she had been doing during the summers with Southwestern Advantage based in Nashville, TN, a door-to-door book sales company that helped her pay her way through college. Roos moved to Clemson, SC, to be a recruiter for Southwestern Advantage, but her goal always was get into a theatre as a profession. Some of her friends from Southwestern Advantage were going to school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and let her know about the community theatre opportunities there. When applications into a master’s directing programs didn’t materialize, Roos moved to Knoxville and continued to work selling books, but also became involved in the community theatre called The Word Players. She started as a stage manager, then worked up to an assistant director and eventually to director.

The directing experience enabled her connect with a manager of The Square Room at Cafe 4 in Knoxville. The two developed a mutual interest to bring more theatre to the venue that generally specializes in music shows. She lined up her first show, “All in the Timing” by David Ives last September, using her fledging production company’s name, Yellow Rose Productions, for the first time. She covered the cost out of pocket and made it back through ticket sales. Roos directed her second production, “Fiction” by Steven Dietz, in early February. This time she had a sponsor, which helped financially.

Koczen joined Roos for their first joint production. Koczen originally is from Long Island, NY, and the two met through their jobs with Southwestern Advantage. “We started talking about theatre and found we have very similar passions,” Roos said. “We were interested in not just theatre, but doing theatre for social justice issues — using theatre as a way to help people experience something they might not otherwise be exposed to, and hopefully letting that build empathy and understanding about other human beings.”

“Princess Cut” is their first production that has a social justice flavor to it. They hope to take it out it out to community groups and activist groups against sexual exploitation. After one of their shows, they will hold a panel discussion about the topic with an FBI investigator, a mental health specialist and an activist. Since the company still is gaining its footing, Roos still has a side job of buying textbooks from professors, but is no longer affiliated with Southwestern Advantage. “Our goal is to be a professional theatre, not a community theatre,” Roos said. In doing so, she and Koczen hope to teach classes, entertain summer drama camps and produce regular shows. Knoxville has proved a good training grounds with the wealth of actors and actresses in the community and from the University of Tennessee. “Knoxville is a really good, progressive area,” Roos said. “It’s been growing in the arts scene. They have a really strong interest in the arts and they pour a lot of money into the arts here.”

Fiction - by Steven Dietz. Yellow Rose Productions, 2014_ The Square Room - Knoxville, TN 8

Knoxville actors stage a performance of “Fiction” in early February, the second official show by Yellow Rose Productions. Sioux Center native Danielle Roos founded the fledging company. She is a graduate of Dordt College and earned bachelor’s of arts degrees in theatre, acting and directing, and digital media productions.

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