ITJA Winner – Partners in Crime?

The following is a student-written work, presented as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA) competition. The views and opinions expressed in this work are the author’s own.

Partners in Crime?

By: Calindez Edwards

Winner, KC/ACTF REGION IV ITJA AWARD 2017

Senior, Alabama State University

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) commences once a year to enrich, educate and engage students in the art of theatre. The annual festivities grant undergraduates a five day, four night all-access pass into an exhilarating world of total theatre immersion for little to no cost. The competition furnishes students with a welcome respite from the monotony of their college campus and bestows upon them a brief glimpse into their post- graduate futures. KCACTF divvies up the 50 United States into eight separate regions characterized by the cardinal point directions, specifying their province’s territory. Guest theatre professionals, educationists and scores of representatives from university theatre programs region-wide converge by the hundreds onto the host college’s campus. The connatural place where artists-in-training can live, shit and breathe theatre evolves into a dream come true for young creators. The possibilities appear limitless for the edifying enlightenment of America’s fledgling generation of theatre artisans. But beware as Macbeth’s recurring motif forebodes, appearances can be deceiving.

 

To the lax eye, KCACTF comes into view as an entity that takes great strides to foster an environment of inclusion and diversity. The productions that are invited to perform at the festival usually have multiracial casts, while the Irene Ryan and Musical Theatre Initiative hopefuls resemble congregants at a Model UN conference. The last five consecutive Irene Ryan Acting winners for Region IV have all been African-American students from a historically black college and university (HBCU). The first runner-up and Best Partner acting awards have also mostly gone to minorities over those same few years.

 

Conversely, recent award ceremonies were hampered by the conveyance of the disturbing message that black students have little to no place at the proverbial table where the Directing; Design Technology and Stage Management; Playwriting and Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy categories are concerned. No African-American student designers have placed first in any of those categories in the past three years. Furthermore, Region IV’s winner statistics suggest the usefulness of black artists’ contributions to the theatre are limited almost exclusively to performance.

 

The addition of the Marvin Sims Diversity Award, named in honor of the deceased educator and former KCACTF National Executive Committee member, potentially serves to belie the fact that Region IV’s winners list implies that black student artists excel at entertaining and hardly anything else. The late Mr. Sims was a trailblazer for theatre advocacy and taught college courses in directing, acting and criticism during his tenure as a professor. Sims was elected as the first African-American president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, an organization well renowned for promoting vision and leadership in theatre education. I wonder what potential commentary he would have proffered in regards to the ostensible glass ceiling currently impeding black theatre students. Kudos to Region IV for commemorating Sim’s memory with a special award of recognition but why are only acting performers eligible to receive it? More importantly, why was the tribute accolade assignated to actors when it would have served a greater purpose in either the directing, playwriting or criticism (ITJA) categories?  Ironically enough, The Marvin Sims Diversity Award segregates in presentation to actors of color only.

 

Paradoxically, the indisputable fact stands steadfast that KCACTF, at least Region IV, places nil value in diversification of their executive board members either since all seven chairs are Caucasian. For the record, three of Region IV’s executive board members are women, therefore a blanket assertion that diversity is completely devoid would be misleading. Nonetheless, it rings true that all three of the female board members are indeed Caucasian. Where are not only the African-Americans but also Latinos, Asians, Muslims and LGBTQ communities represented within the ranks of the directorates? The board of executives for any publically funded organization should duly reflect the entirety of the landscape they claim to represent not just one certain segment. Located in the southeastern portion of the U.S., Region IV includes red states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that the increasingly alarming symbiosis between KCACTF’s Region IV and its participating HBCU’s is eerily reminiscent of the master-house slave relationship dynamics of the antebellum south. A distressing pattern of unspoken complicity between the two seems to have emerged in recent years. It would appear that as long as the exceptionally talented black actors and singers remain in tune with the status quo by continuing to shuck and jive for the white folks, everything is otay in good ol’ Dixie.

 

Arguably, does the blame for the deficit of a more prominent minority presence in the non-performance categories fall squarely on the shoulders of the KCACTF regions? No it does not. Undoubtedly, at least where the HBCU’s are concerned, a major disconnect occurs between the KCACTF respondent’s initial nomination; the student and faculty’s collaborative preparation; and ultimately, the student’s festival presentation. Numerous HBCU theatre departments trek hundreds of miles to the festivals annually, with the express purpose to win performance awards, having little to no regard for participation elsewhere. Their synergetic partnerships with KCACTF notwithstanding, the accountability of the schools in properly preparing students for viable futures as professionals within all areas of theatre remains immensely crucial. The Universities and their associated theatre programs must be taken to task for their role in this glaring disparity as well.

 

For example, why are playwriting and dramaturgy classes not offered in most HBCU theatre programs? Particularly, if the department chairs or program directors are playwrights yet insist upon using valuable University resources to mount their own scripts as qualifying productions. Why not re-allocate that sizeable portion of the department budget toward the ontogeny of future black playwrights instead of covertly disguised attempts at self-aggrandizement? What are the primary focal points of the curriculum and training students are receiving? Are there development programs or workshops with committed and qualified mentors in place at these institutions geared toward cultivating the burgeoning interests of the incipient dramaturgs, critics, directors, stage managers and designers of tomorrow? These questions raise serious concerns but as they pertain to other colleges and their processes, I am unable to answer with absolute certainty.

 

However, I am inclined to share my own personal experiences as they relate to being an African-American theatre major from Alabama State University (ASU), my HBCU. I have also attended the last three KCACTF Region IV festivals.  I was not afforded support or assistance with any of my nominations by a single member of the faculty at my school. Ever. For the past two years, I would arrive at KCACTF completely ill prepared for the competition. I have been nominated a total of seven times in three years for multiple awards such as Dramaturgy, Stage Management and ITJA. I have yet to win an award but I am far from bitter. Quite the contrary, I am grateful for the invaluable life lessons I have learned from these experiences. At past festivals, I felt an isolation and alienation akin to solitary confinement. I was frequently the lone person of color, more specifically the only black male, in a room full of mostly Caucasian peers. As a consequence of these awkward encounters, I learned the hard way that I could never truly see a reflection of myself while attempting to peer through the eyes of another.

 

All things considered, I am truly appreciative to ASU as well as KCACTF Region IV for the training and tutelage I have been fortunate to receive during my four year sojourn as a non-traditional college student. Now as a graduating senior, my only hope is that the true intention of this missive is heard loud and clear and structural changes are implemented post haste to improve a deeply flawed system. The future tastemakers and innovators of American theatre are being groomed at this very moment and I am afraid for the vitality of the art form if the current trend continues. At this rate, black and other minority artists will be marginalized to the fringes of the stage while white artists will call the shots in all areas requiring aforethought and brain trust.  It is quite possible that I am being naive, maybe Region IV and HBCU’s are only emulating the much, much bigger entertainment industry’s infrastructure of power hierarchy? Not only will diversity be imperative to the approaching dawn of theatre’s new era, it will be a requirement for its success.

 

I used to wonder if it were possible that I was the only black college student, in any theatre program canvasing nine different states, interested in becoming a theatre intellectual in Dramaturgy, Directing and Criticism? By and large, that possibility appears to be the sad truth from my purview. Be that as it may, I am no King of Scotland and a trio of witches are not needed to predict duplicitous deceptions because what you get is exactly what you see.

 

ITJA Finalist – Dealing With Dreadful Devices

The following is a student-written work, presented as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA) competition. The views and opinions expressed in this work are the author’s own.

Dealing with Dreadful Devices

by Pedro Urquia, Florida International University

           First Runner Up for Region IV ITJA Advocate Award

Saturday Night Live has a sketch that they bring out from time to time that reflects on the terrible student-written productions that every theatre student experienced in high school. The humor in the sketch comes from the lack of subtlety in the student productions. If the students want to discuss homophobia in America, they kiss each other and implore the audience to “get over it.” If they want to discuss the dangers of unprotected sex, the amateur performers will turn to the audience and proclaim “I have AIDS.” I bring up this recurring sketch because every time I sit in the audience of a devised piece of theatre I am reminded of that SNL skit.

Collaborative theatre shares a lot in common with the political theory of communism. Like communism, this kind of theatre theatre promotes a hive mentality where every person and their individual needs are treated equally. Everyone’s opinion thrusts itself center stage when no one has the courage to kill their darlings for the sake of a uniform opinion. A cacophonous crowd of voices shouting at the audience without any sense of authentic urgency takes the stage. At this point the audience feels like a child being scolded by someone their own age on matters far beyond either’s understanding.

In 2016, I experienced Shoestring Players’ The Pursuit of U.S., a devised piece that attempted to comment on the state of the media, government and lifestyle in America. In 2017, The Mis-Education of Hip Hop, attempts to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, Hip Hop’s history and the lives of four forgettable characters trying to start a music group. These pieces share the same problem, they fail to focus their narratives and stray into telling the audience how to feel way too often. Telling and not showing seems to be the law of the land in the world of devised theatre. Grave life decisions are casually brought up in their tale that lends no credence to anything happening on the stage. Characters complete total reversions of their personalities in mere seconds without reasonable explanations.

The biggest sin with pieces like Pursuit of U.S. and Mis-Education of Hip Hop, appears in the form of exploitative sensationalism. Topics are ripped from the headlines and rubbed in the noses of the audience until they are forced to react. Manipulation rules supreme, and it leaves a sickening feeling in the audience by the time the cast takes their bow. Actual discussions are abandoned over what I have termed “tabloid theatre.”

Unfortunately, these pieces are not completely devoid of merit. When the actors/writers/directors focus on facts and creating complete characters onstage the group actually speaks as one and delivers truth on stage. In the case of Mis-Education, there are enough facts about the history of hip hop to create a decent one act about the voices of those hip hop artists that some have forgotten. Collaboration could very well lead to a story that follows a single narrative thread and awards the audience with new knowledge. Instead, audiences are punished with the disjointed tragedies of four characters that are too underdeveloped to care about. With frenzied flourishes of a red pen, an amateur editor could pluck some humanity from the depths of this plays’ cold, unfeeling heart.

There remains the possibility that nothing can save the naïve sentimentality of devised theatre. Trying to cram all the ideas of every author of a play leads to the classic “too many cooks” scenario. With everyone trying to form an opinion on a single subject, no opinion comes from the final product. Plays like this hint at bigger ideas that go unexplored. Themes that get abandoned halfway through their analysis. This causes the audience to leave the theatre unsure whether or not they actually got anything from the piece or were force fed an idea until it appeared to be their own. It comes off as a less successful and neophyte attempt at brainwashing the audience into agreeing with the latest liberal cause. Wanting to win an audience over with integrity would be a commendable goal, but attempting to do so with a handful of talking points amounts to nothing in the end.

With some soul-crushing imagination and decades of rewiring, I can see the methods of creating devised theatre coming together to make more complete and earnest stories. If a designated leader became traditional in collaborative work, then I can even envision community theatres putting on whole seasons consisting of only their devised works. As it stands, the infantile nature of the craft shows in the lack of finesse behind the pieces of this generation. I believe we are currently watching this style’s awkward years of puberty. With time, it could turn out to be a wonderful commentary on the world around us or remain an SNL-parody of itself.

ITJA Finalist – The Effect of Team Building on A Successful Stage Production

The following is a student-written work, presented as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA) competition. The views and opinions expressed in this work are the author’s own.

The Effect of Team Building on A Successful Stage Production

By: Samantha Poffenberger

First Year Student, Georgia Southern University

Every piece of theatre consists of the onstage performance delivered by the actors and the backstage performance given by the crew. The crew, comprised of everyone from stagehands to design tech, play a vital part in creating a seamless production. Each crew member acts as a stitch in a piece of fabric, if one stops doing their job the entire thing falls apart.

As KCACTF progressed, I had the opportunity to witness how different crews handled the many tasks of putting on a show, including assembling the set, repositioning lights and making on-the-fly adjustments to make sure the entire show runs seamlessly. Some teams were almost mechanical in the way they moved in synchronized patterns while hanging lights and bringing in set pieces. They resemble a robot army, with their matching expressionless faces, as if they get no enjoyment from their existence and are on this Earth solely to move props around for plays. On the flip side, other crews are a little less organized. Not to throw anyone under the bus, but GSU’s stage crew is one of these. Unlike our robotic counterparts, we actually look like we are having fun, even when we are not. We may not be the most organized crew and we sure are not the best stage crew at KCACTF, but we make up for it with our enthusiasm and passion. I personally feel that the approach taken by GSU’s stage crew is the better one. At the end of the day I believe in the importance of enjoying the overall experience, and that the chemistry that a more casual method builds can actually be helpful when situations arise in the middle of a performance.

I understand why some stage crews chose the more step by step technique. Ultimately, the crew is responsible for making sure everything goes well on the technical side . They are not there to make friends or pull pranks on each other. Their job is to put on a good show and make sure that everything goes as according to plan. They do this not just for the audience, but also for the actors who have spent months of their lives memorizing their lines and sacrificing their precious hours to put on a fantastic show. I, however, think it meaningful to fully immerse yourself into the comradery among the company. I am not going to lie, at times backstage work is not the most thrilling job in the world and the ability to joke around with my fellow crew members makes it not only bearable, but honestly enjoyable.

The other issue with a more formal style of tech is when you treat the production as a job you miss the team building aspect of putting on a show. Not only is the bonding experience influential for the theatre department as a whole, but it is a key component to a successful production. When a stage crew builds chemistry, it allows them to work better on-the-fly. When something goes wrong in the middle of a performance, which happens to even the best of crews, the bond between individual crew members can be crucial. In those critical moments between a diverted disaster and a literal one, the strong relationship between the team allows the crew to anticipate what the other members of the crew are about to do. With the more detached attitude you lack that connection, which can be the deciding factor between disaster and a minor slip up. Slip ups so minute that the audience does not even notice. In that moment where the entire production hangs in the balance, the ability to know the person working alongside allows you to save precious moments. For example, in She Kills Monsters, the final battle involves a five-headed dragon. To accomplish this five ensemble members had to bear the burden of carrying a steel framed backpack with a giant papier-mache dragon head on top. As you can imagine each head was a substantial amount of weight and is incredibly dangerous. During a run-through of the show the biggest and heaviest head started to falter. The head and the actor were about to come tumbling down at any second. Without missing a beat the entire crew simultaneously ran on stage to save the life of our actor and the dragon head. The only way that we all could be on the exact same wave-length was because we were more of a family and less like co-workers. In the end the crew being so coordinated saved one of our actors from being seriously injured.  

In some instances, the dilemma occurs of who may oversee fixing the problem. With the more structured styles every person has there one job they are responsible for, so when something goes wrong the task of fixing it falls onto that person or people. With the more casual attitude, no one cares whose job it may be, they are just worried about fixing the problem as coherent as possible and creating a quick-stitch solution that fastens the rip in the performance.

 

ITJA Finalist – Are You Ready For A Cabinet Meeting?

The following is a student-written work, presented as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism and Advocacy (ITJA) competition. The views and opinions expressed in this work are the author’s own.

 

Are You Ready for a Cabinet Meeting?

By Collette Simkins

Senior, Catawba College

In a world where Javier Munoz, a gay Latino actor, portrays Alexander Hamilton at the same time as Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, advocates for conversion therapy, a new question begs for an answer. How do artists fight a war which often feels like it has already been lost?

In recent months, launched by events like Mike Pence’s Hamilton visit, we have searched for solutions. The responses vary. At one end of the spectrum, Pence’s sympathizers and supporters believe art exists only to entertain. Politics hold no place in our work. At the other end, those who defended the cast’s words, think art exists to challenge no matter who it alienates. But when the creators often represent marginalized communities and the consumers tend to hold privilege, neither of these answers satisfies either party. The first not only diminishes an artist’s work, but might also endanger the artist’s well-being. The second ignores an entire half of the conversation instead preaching to a choir of the already converted. But if neither solution works, what do we do?

The participants of KCACTF Region 4 offer up an alternative. It is not cowardly complacency nor is it fiery self-righteousness; it is a subtle and rumbling call to action. The plays presented during the 49th Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival shared a similar theme: insidious social justice, well hidden in fantastical worlds and universal stories.

Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters, presented by Georgia Southern University, follows a young woman, Agnes, embracing Dungeons and Dragons in order to understand the mind of her dead younger sister, Tillie. On the surface, the audience witnesses a feel good sisterhood story full of references to the Power Rangers, Friends, and Sir Mix- A-Lot. But they also get a story in which the heroine’s love interest pales in comparison to her quest. They get a story in which a young woman learns to wield a weapon and fight for herself. They get a story in which Agnes discovers her own worth and lives beyond her label of “average.”

She Kills Monsters is a feminist play; it just doesn’t feel like one. While Agnes shames Tillie’s D&D companions for their revealing outfits, everyone else within this world accepts it. Tillie’s friends wear what they want- their body, their choice. The play espouses feminist ideals without bogging the audience down in a bucket of theory. Nguyen unites millennials, regardless of political leaning, through our love of the nineties which opens the floor to conversations about why a demon princess and female elven warrior were half dressed or what it means that Nicholas Newell cast two young black girls in the lead roles. Friends serves as an olive branch, now we have to extend it.

Women’s rights are not the only issue in need of defense, the plight of immigrants and refugees must be represented as well. Florida International University’s production of La Nona shares the woes of Italian immigrants living in Argentina with American audiences and performed in Spanish. Playwright Roberto Cossa wrote the play as a response to the Argentinian government’s irresponsibility and deviousness. Marina Pareja’s direction misses the mark of the playwright’s original intent; it does not quite move past the farcical, but she still stakes a claim in the battle for representation and equality. Pareja decided the story needed telling. Even if the production does not reach its allegorical potential, the play still focuses on the immigrant struggle. Pareja chose the Spanish-language version of the play and her actors perform in their native tongue, alerting the primarily English speaking audiences of position as outsiders.

Our laughter masks the subliminal messaging. As we delight in Nona’s incessant eating and grumble at Chicho’s scheming, we consume the message Pareja lays before us. Pareja says immigrants’ stories deserve to be told. If we take the time to delve just a bit deeper into the script, we find Cossa’s argument, which may inspire us but ostracize patrons who support an authoritarian government.

In a reimagining of A Doll’s House, ten-minute plays about deaf culture, and one-acts about the Holocaust and young black protestors, we could hear the message: Bring the horse to water. You cannot force him to drink, but the horse will see how refreshing the water looks and maybe he’ll drink of his own volition. Nora’s House, a contemporary re-telling of the third act of Ibsen’s famous play, presents its audience with a fast paced response to the early feminist piece. North Greenville used video and projection to contemporize the production and connect to a modern audience. Yet the theme remains the same, Nora is not a child or a doll; she deserves an intellectual and fulfilling life. Lacey Alexander’s ten-minute play Bits and Pieces explores the life of a partially deaf girl, Miley, and her struggle to communicate in a hearing-centered world. Bits and Pieces represents a new wave of plays noticeably absent in the theatre, those celebrating our differences in ability.  

KCACTF’s solution to our problem recognizes the validity of artists’ desire to protect their own and acknowledges that at some level our craft does exist to entertain.  We walk a fine line when we attempt to shut out patrons because they believe differently than us. Like bees to honey, easing our opponents into the conversation might yield a more productive outcome than throwing them on the offensive. Provocative, challenging theatre has its place; it prevents us from becoming complacent in our own do-gooding. If we can re-contextualize our war as a gathering, we might be more successful Though eventually we need to find a way for everyone else to get the party, right now we need to start with an invitation.

Ten Minute Play Festival Program

February 11, 2017
Ten Minute Play Festival Stage Manager: Sierra Clay
Directing Mentors: Be Boyd and Genesis Garza
Board Operator: Chris Wilson
Technical Director: Sean Devine

Troubled Waters
By: Chip Miller (College of Charleston)
Directed by: Ginny Ives (University of South Carolina Aiken)
Dramaturg: Mary Flott (Georgia Southern University)
Stage Manager:Candace Shirley (Berry College)

Cast
Cecile Waters – Brianna Smart (Middle Tennessee State University)
Simon – Donovan Hughes (Middle Tennessee State University)
Fauntleroy Maulderbury- Robbie Ramirez (Middle Tennessee State University)
Chesterfield MacMillan- Jonathon Carter (Middle Tennessee State University)
The Duchess- Sarah Koop (Meredith College)
Stage Directions- Tyler Todd (Young Harris College)

The Brechtian Challenge

Direct your face towards the stage and take a good look. Do you see it? No, not that. I’m talking about the wall. The fourth wall to be exact. And just like that, it is broken, and you are now stepping into the world of Epic Theatre. Now that it has been shattered beyond repair, let’s play a game, neighbor against neighbor!

The Fourth Wall Game

  • Look around you! Can you point out all the lighting instruments and set dressings?

-if a crew member is visible 20 points.

  • Do you see those music stands sitting on stage? Those are not your average paper holders. How many uses can you imagine?

-5 points for each one.

  • Quick scare your neighbor! Think of the creepiest song you can and quietly hum it in your neighbor’s ear.

– 10 points if you make them jump!

  • You should keep score, take out your invisible pen and paper if you need to! Let’s see how many time this play makes you laugh.

-30 points if you don’t crack a smile.

  • Follow closely and keep a watchful eye, for a crime has been committed and we need to know why.

-50 points for whoever guesses the ending.

Once the play is finished, tally your score and see if you won!

Mary Flott, Dramaturg (Georgia Southern University)


The Taming of the Zoo
By: Heather Harris (University of South Florida)
Directed by: Courtney Coppa (Middle Tennessee State University)
Dramaturg: Marianna Mata (Anderson University)
State Manager: Mary Helen Higgs (Georgia College & State University)

Cast
Hen – AnnaBeth Crittenden (Berry College)
Elephant – John Simmins (Pellissippi State Community College)
Donkey – Robert Patterson (Pellissippi State Community College)
Mule/Ensemble – James Kenyon (Belhaven University)
Stage Directions- Rusty Burton (Coastal Carolina Community College)

10 Things Every Politician Loves to Say

If you have a pulse and a TV, then you’ve heard a campaign speech, press conference or prime time address. And if you have been blessed enough to to witness such intellectualism you have realized that our elected officials possess a vocabulary resembling a mix between morse code and a children’s book. Here I will explain the top ten phrases used by politicians in this incredibly small vernacular.

  1. I’m worried about Main Street, not Wall Street.

         I’m all about Main Street, until it’s time for my fancy fundraiser on Wall Street.

  1. Let me be clear…

         Listen up, I’m about to repeat myself probably twice, but simply for the purpose of ambiguity.     

  1. Make no mistake…

         Yeah, I might have lied in the past but I promise I am telling the truth now.

  1. The people have spoken.

         Hi. Hey. Hello. Remember when I won the election? ‘Cause I’m about to remind you.

  1. For me, the issue is personal.

         I read a poll once.

  1. Government is the problem, not the solution.

         Unless we are talking about regulation, The Gays, and vaginas.

  1. Where I’m from, people are hurting.

         I live in Washington, I eat at high end vegan restaurants in Washington, but I have a vacation house in Maine so I understand the struggles of the middle class.

  1. Let’s make this campaign about changing the way D.C. does business.

         I won’t take lobbyists’ money, unless my opponent does. Then maybe I will continue to take money from lobbyists.

  1. All the options on the table.

         I am completely obtuse and have already made my mind up on this issue, but I assure you, I am completely open-minded. There is no one more open-minded than me.

  1. We need stronger leadership in D.C.

         My portrait for the oval office is already painted.

Marianna Mata, Dramaturg (Anderson University)


Bits and Pieces
By: Lacey Alexander (Troy University)
Directed by: Stefen Suttles (Florida International University)
Dramaturg: Tommy Heller (University of Central Florida)
Stage Manager: Ariel McLendon (University of South Alabama)

Cast
Miley- Keeley Adkisson (Young Harris College)
Kyle- Gregory Pitts (Columbus State University)
Jane- Cailin Hurley (Pellississippi State Community College)
Colin- Andrew McDonald (Northwest Mississippi Community College)
Stage Directions- Diandra Sallee (Campbellsville University)

Can You Hear Me?

Let’s pretend for a moment that at birth your parents placed a pair of BEATS Over-the-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones over your ears – and that these headphones get permanently stuck over your ears.

These headphones drown out the noise of the outside world with your favorite music and reduce the sound of a monster truck to a church mouse. With this feature, however, comes the inevitable day when your friend or parent calls your name, and you do not hear them. They suddenly become frustrated that you are not responding. They make comments about how you will go deaf if you keep the music too loud, or how you are not paying attention them, or how hard it is to communicate with someone who is not listening.

Eventually, people start giving up on you. You carry around a notepad and a pen, but people do not want to take the time to write down what they’re saying or wait for you to respond. You try lip reading but no one ensures they are facing you when they speak. You learn sign language, but others don’t want to take the time to learn. So you also retreat; you accept the fact that no one is going to try including you anymore. You feel isolated.

Deaf author Sally Sainsbury wrote in her book Deaf Worlds, “While the deaf are considered to be different from the rest of the community, there is a great reluctance to concede that such differences may create barriers to their integration into society at large.” This new, original work penned by student-playwright Lacey Alexander analyzes the treatment of disabled people in a predominantly able-bodied world and asks its audience to reflect how we regard those with disabilities, specifically the hearing impaired.

Tommy Heller, Dramaturg (University of Central Florida)


[Un]finished
By: Nathan Maxwell (Troy University)
Directed by: David Jackson (Georgia Southern University)
Dramaturg: Collette Simkins (Catawba College)
Stage Manager: Kendall Yonko (University of Southern Mississippi)

Cast
Guard – Jalen Frasher (Georgia College)
Artist- Kate Leanne Jacoby (Columbus State University)
Stage Directions – Madison Parrott (Belhaven University)

Concept over Structure: The Infamous Untitled

The Modernism exhibit is one of the most popular and widely contested collections here at our museum. Critics of the movement take offense to a focus on an artist’s concept rather than attention to his execution. As you peruse the exhibit, you’ll find a range of work from early Modernists to more contemporary artists taking inspiration from their predecessors.

The work of Mark Rothko is prominent in this exhibit. Our curators boast one of the largest collections in the nation. Rothko once said, “It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what is painted as long as it is painted well.” Known for his massive color-blocking pieces, Rothko created art that was as divisive as it was famous. Some loved his emotion driven, abstracted works, finding authenticity in the looming colors. Others despaired at his work’s reductionism, frustrated at its technical simplicity.

You’ll also find a significant body of work from Jackson Pollock, one of Rothko’s contemporaries. Sharing Rothko’s point of view, Pollock argued that “the modern artist is working with space and time and expressing his feelings, rather than illustrating.”

Our newest piece in the exhibit is entitled Unfinished. One of our more contemporary pieces, the artist asks us to consider whether we value content or structure more in our own lives.

If you have a virtual tour guide, press 9 now to begin.

Collette Simkins, Dramaturg (Catawba College)


Before Greece
By: Mario Alonso (Florida International University)
Directed by: Trey Irby (Catawba College)
Dramaturg: Kathryn Burrell (Georgia Southern University)
Stage Manager: Noah Parsons (University of Alabama Birmingham)

Cast
Hoyt – Coby Wester (Pellisippi State Community College)
Fulton – Ethan Hart (Berry College)
Stage Directions – DeAnna Gregory (University of South Carolina Aiken)

All The Feels

How do you experience college? What organizations are you active in? Did you go Greek? Are you an introvert?  Do you party? Do you have a lot of sex? Like, a lot of sex? Ever fallen in or out of like with someone?

Ask yourself, “How am I experiencing the idea of college differently from someone else?” We all live differently than the preconceived notion of the “classic” college experience. That doesn’t mean you are doing “it,” the college experience, wrong. College is a time to explore life’s options and how they pertain to you.

How many times has someone’s opinion influenced you to think in a way you never thought you would think? Adopting one way of life doesn’t mean you fit that stereotype. Sure, you might have to work a little harder to separate yourself from that certain identity, but the core of our decisions should support our individual definitions of a fulfilled, happy life. The ideals we believe to be true go through a metamorphosis and become unique to ourselves. Suddenly wrong is right, up is down, hate is love, and prejudice is acceptance.  The ambiguity of life is what makes life worth exploring.

Labels are not important. You are. What kind of experience do you want? This is the question Before Greece asks you to consider. Actually think about it because really, it’s all up to you.

Kathryn Burrell, Dramaturg (Georgia Southern University)


Greenlight
By: Skylar Grieco (Middle Tennessee State College)
Directed by: Leah Thomas (University of Central Florida)
Dramaturg: Rachel Pelgen (Morehead State University), Nathan Petty (Columbus State University)
Stage Manager: Natalie Andric (Young Harris College)

Cast
James – Cypress Wade (Pellissippi State College)
Iris – Victoria Mitchell (Meredith College)
Stage Directions- Carlee McClary (University of South Carolina-Aiken)

Waiting for a Show

“People talk about the guy that’s waiting on a girl.”—The Script

Stuck…cemented in one spot…waiting for something…something that may never come. You yourselves are waiting, waiting for a show, something you know will come within minutes. But what if it didn’t? You could be sitting here waiting, immovable, for who knows how long.

“The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” features a man who is waiting on the corner for a lost love. Determined to not let anything interfere with his plan, he stands through the rain and snow waiting for a girl that never comes. It is his dedication to the past that drives the song forward without ever giving a clear answer of where he will end up.

The Great Gatsby introduces readers to Jay Gatsby, the wealthy protagonist who stares nightly at a green light emanating from the end of Daisy’s dock. It is his hope to rekindle the connection they lost years ago. The green light gives him hope, but also leads to an obsession that holds him back in ways he could never realize.

The Green Light by Skylar Grieco is inspired by the pop song “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” made famous by the Script, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. The show contextualizes these themes with a new significance that culminates in the connection that Iris and James form as they both look for something greater than themselves.

So as you sit here waiting for a show, I ask you, what’s worth moving for?

Rachel Pelgen, Dramaturg (Morehead State University)
Nathan Petty, Dramaturg (Columbus State University)

JFK Play Selections Announced

We’re pleased to announce the plays selected for KCACTF’s new John F Kennedy commissioned one-act play initiative.

The purpose of the national initiative is to commission one-act plays that focus on John F. Kennedy’s values of courage, freedom, justice, service, and gratitude. The plays must also feature an ethnically and gender-diverse cast, and be viably performable by college students; featuring topics and issues that are both relevant and reflect upon the values listed above.

The plays selected for this year are:

A Crossover Dream by Migdalia Cruz

Three young people( a Syrian Laborer from 2010s, a transgender holocaust victim in the 1930s, and a Mexican teacher in the 1990s)  are locked in an existential space surrounded by a huge wall we cannot see yet. They are dirty and cold, playing games to pass the time, before attempting to escape three torturers that guard them.

Slave Stained Shattered by Antoinette Nwandu

Inspired by a true story. Vonda, a black undergraduate student at Yale, leads the momentum to have a stained glass window depicting slavery removed from a building on campus. She is somewhat distracted by Tracey, another student with whom she has been romantically involved. In the mean time, the window is smashed by Dwight, a black man working as a dishwasher for the school.

Both of these plays will be featured during the festival in a pair of readings scheduled for Thursday at 9:00am

How to Connect to Georgia Southern’s Wifi

GS Guest

GS Guest is an unsecured, open network. Registration, which is good for five days is necessary to access GSGuest.

1.       Open the wireless network list.

2.       Connect to the GS Guest wireless network.

3.       Open your web browser.

4.       If you already have an account, enter your account username/password and click the “Sign On” button.

5.       If you do not have an account, enter the requested information and click the “Register” button.

GSCampus

GSCampus is the secure network for the Georgia Southern campus. Clients of the GSCampus must have a MyGeorgiaSouthern account.

1.       Navigate to your device’s Wireless Network setup.

2.       Select the option labeled “gscampus”.

3.       Enter your MyGeorgiaSouthern username and password.

4.       If necessary, accept the network’s certificate.

GSDevice

GSDevice is an unsecured, open network design to allow such devices as game consoles and smart TVs. Clients of the GSDevice network must register their device through an online portal. A device hardware address (MAC address) is necessary.

1.       Go to MyGeorgiaSouthern.edu/WirelessDeviceReg to begin the process.

2.       Enter your MyGeorgiaSouthern username and password.

3.       Click the “Add” button on the Manage Devices screen.

4.       Enter the name, MAC address, and description of your device. Click the “Submit” button/

5.       Connect your device to GSDevice.

For help finding your device’s MAC address

GeorgiaSouthern.edu/GSWireless/FindYourDeviceAddress

For detailed instructions

Refer to the GS Wireless Service Guide at GeorgiaSouthern.edu/GSWireless or contact the Service Desk at (912) 478-2287.

Hotels Full for Festival 49 – More Options Below

It appears as though all the hotels in Statesboro are booked.  Certainly all the hotels listed on our Hotel Information page are.

If you are still looking for a place to rest your head, take a gander at the offerings in Metter.  It’s about a 20 minute drive away from the college in Statesboro, and you can park on campus.

If you are brave, you can try to find an open room in Statesboro that we missed, but you’ll have nothing but the wind to guide your sails.

Onward!  Ever onward, brave souls, to Festival 49!