Theatre program expands

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Jacob Armstrong -- AJ Paulin and Grace Robinson examine prints from the theater program’s new plotter.
Jacob Armstrong — AJ Paulin and Grace Robinson examine prints from the theater program’s new plotter.

The theatre program has seen a lot of changes over the past five years, and with the addition of a new acting director, equipment and facilities, this year will be no different.

Lee A. Lyons, professor of theatre, is taking over the position of acting director and has a vision of “continuing to bring the high quality of theater the theater program is known for,” he said.

Lyons also said he wants to bring more real-world experience to theatre students and help prepare them for the reality that is the entertainment industry.

“(The entertainment industry) is highly competitive,” Lyons said. “They don’t ask for your degree. They judge you by your talents and it’s a hard life.”

As a result, Lyons said he hopes to tap into the Christian community inside the Hollywood zone, such as Hollywood Presbyterian and Actor’s Co-Op, which provides workshops and members meet for Bible studies.

“Creating a relationship with these types of organizations will be helpful for students as they start building their careers and serving God in the church or in other Christian organizations,” Lyons said.

Among changes in the theater program will be a new scene shop on Adams Street and Lincoln Avenue starting Sept. 11, and, according to Lyons, the university will provide students with a tram service. This scene shop will be used to store and create props and scenery for the theater program’s various shows.

“The new scene workshop is a huge blessing after having to work out of the back of the theater and the shared space in Adams, which doubled as a engineering lab, cheerleading practice facility and storage area,” said Jared L. Johnson, junior technical theatre/design major.

“I’m hoping this is the last move we’ll have to make, but as the program and university grows, we have to adapt to whatever we have the opportunity to work with.”

The theater program received new equipment to help continue the high quality of theater they wish to bring. An industry plotter, or vector graphic printer, was purchased for the design students so they can print and take their work with them.

“Everything done in the theater world is written in pencil, which comes out horribly in traditional copiers. This will definitely make an impact in reproducing sketches of stage, lighting, audio and prop layouts,” Johnson said.

The program also received industrial-grade scenic tools such as band and table saws. Rehearsal furniture made out of steel was purchased to prevent damage for acting classes.

As a natural collaborator, Lyons said he is looking for opportunities to work together with other departments and fellow faculty.

A key focus of this vision for Lyons is writing curriculum to build a television production and broadcasting degree with the help of Dr. Michael D. Chute, director of

journalism and public relations. “We serve students across these multiple disciplines, and as you think about television news, you have to be a journalist and you learn the specifics of journalism for TV, but it’s still journalism,” Lyons said. “It’s still the reporter’s skill … and finding how you dig for facts and build a story creating a package that communicates what is going on to the audience.”

This year, school matinees will be open to students, faculty and staff with limited seating available. This is to allow more commuters, faculty and staff unable to attend evening performances because of work schedules to see shows.

The theater program will be opening this season with the four- man musical “Forever Plaid” by Stuart Ross. Performance dates are Oct. 12-13 and 19-20, with two school matinees on Oct. 17 and 18.

Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town,” the closing production for the fall semester, will feature a large cast and provide an opportunity for experienced and new actors alike.

Those performance dates are scheduled Nov. 9-10 and 16-17, with two school matinees on Nov. 14 and 15.

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