Paul Patton, playwright of Lifting the Veil, shared his lecture The God Talk: The Manipulative Use of Religious Language, at our departmental meeting on September 21. His lecture was a good warning for our students against using, and allowing others to use, the name of God (and the authority that goes with it) for self-serving ends.
Paul was present for the premeire of his play, directed by senior theatre major Jonathan Dixon, and also shared with several of our classes, including a talk with our Scriptwriting class on generating play ideas from one’s personal history, and encouraged our Acting 2 and Directing class towards “Stewarding the Stirrings of your Soul” by committing to memory those things (scriptures, passages of novels or plays) that stand out as being useful or valuable for further consideration.
Paul’s visit was a significant blessing to our students and faculty alike, and we are thankful for his time with us.
Last semester, I was involved in the faculty tenure process here at Belhaven and one of the requirements was to write a paper discussing my worldview in regards to my discipline of theatre & design. I am happy to say that I was honoured with tenure, and I thought I might share my paper in order to give you some insight into some of the views that shape our department and teaching of this interactive, immersive, & collaborative art form.
I entitled the paper:
There are easter egg links hidden within the text to serve as my references and citations to some of the people and I quote & examples I give, so feel free to click on them and follow those through as well.
Visiting with us Sept. 20-22 will be guest artist Paul D. Patton, playwright of Lifting the Veil, which will premiere on September 21. Lifting the Veil is based on the true story of the runaway wedding of evangelists Katherine Kuhlman and Burroughs Waltrip, as they struggle to divine the will of God in their hasty marriage.
Paul is the author of over 30 works for the theatre and was the founder of Trinity House Theatre in Detroit. He is the co-author of the recently published “Prophetically Incorrect: a Christian introduction to Media Criticism”. Paul has lectured on topics such as “The Idolatry of the Cult of Celebrity” and “God Talk: Lessons in the Manipulative Use of Religious Language.” He is an associate professor of Communication and Drama at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, where he lives with his wife, Beth.
Paul visited Belhaven previously in 2007 when we produced his play, Kurt Gerstein, winner of the 2007 Christians in Theatre Arts New Play Contest.
Paul will be guest lecturing at several classes, including our Scriptwriting course and performance classes, and will make a special presentation at a whole department gathering on Tuesday afternoon.
So just about every student (or parent with visiting students) has a similar question…. Why Belhaven theatre? Why should I (or my child) come here, study here, create here?
Well, we as educators and employees of Belhaven Theatre have our answers and reasons, from the quality of education, our dedication to the artform of theatre and promoting a servant attitude while using the arts to honor our Creator. But honestly and truthfully, we often come back to one single answer to this question that we believe is the most important, the one that has been confirmed on a regular basis by Belhaven’s president Dr. Parrott: The single best reason to attend Belhaven is that God has called you to be here.
However, we thought that it might be valuable for the prospective students and families to hear from the students currently attending Belhaven as Theatre students about why they chose to be a part of this school and this department….
Question: How did you decide to come to Belhaven?
- I felt so encouraged to find a university, as well as a theatre department, that sincerely desires its students to be actively seeking God while also learning to be the best they can be in their chosen art. Belhaven Theatre department has its priorities straight – love God first. I noticed that they didn’t just preach faith either, they walked it out as a family. Those were some of the primary reasons I chose Belhaven theatre.
- I was attracted by the vision of training people in the arts for the kingdom of God. What sets Belhaven apart from other Christian arts schools is that Belhaven (and especially the Theatre department) sees art as a way to glorify God.
- Honestly, I have no idea how I ended up at Belhaven. I acted in high school, loved being on stage, but was never really involved in the technical process behind the shows. However, I know that I didn’t have the talent or the heart to act professionally. After my parents laid down the law, having to go to a Christian college, one thing led to another and by God’s providence I ended up at Belhaven.
- I was really interested in theatre ministry and this was the only place where I felt they had a great theatre program with a Christian worldview. I really also wanted a theatre training that taught me the whole view of theatre. I have been trained in many different areas and have learned what collaboration and servanthood means.
- Through a series of interesting circumstances, I knew for a fact that this is where I was supposed to be. I actually applied to four different schools as four different majors, so I wasn’t really sure what exactly I wanted to do. But as I learned that Theatre was what I wanted to do, to me, there was no other choice but Belhaven.
- One of my mentors had come here. She said good things about the department and it seemed the right place to be.
- I was at my youth group in the spring of my senior year. I was completely unsure of where to go for college. We were having a worship night and during this God spoke to me and said, “Go to Belhaven!” This was later confirmed to me by my youth pastor. I didn’t see any reason to go against God so I went to Belhaven and haven’t regretted a single moment! God is good!
- I discovered Belhaven through Ballet Magnificat. As a high school sophomore, I believed God was calling me to dance. However, by my junior year, I realized that while I loved dancing and wanted to work in the performing arts, I did not want to make a career from ballet alone. My mom was the first person to look at Belhaven’s website. While searching, she found the theatre department. I had expressed interest in theatre so she encouraged me to look at the information. I was impressed with what I saw and wanted to visit the campus. October of my junior year I visited the department on Arts Discover Day and after one day on campus I knew I wanted to attend Belhaven.
- I was thoroughly impressed with the quality and level of professionalism as well as community within the department. I also was drawn to the variety of productions that you would find in a secular setting. Just because we’re a Christian school doesn’t mean that we avoid all kinds of plays.
- I visited Belhaven for a dance intensive in 8th grade but never dreamed I’d one day be coming here. My interest in the school was revived in 11th grade when my dance teacher brought up the idea of me coming here. By that time, I knew I wanted to study theatre. I was immediately drawn to Belhaven and after I started researching it I knew this was the place God wanted me. I can’t really explain it, but he has given me such a confidence in making the decision to come here and each day I feel blessed that I’m in a strong Christian environment doing what I love. How much better can it get?
- I came because I liked the comprehensive program and wanted to learn all aspects of theatre. I had no idea what I wanted to DO I just really wanted to learn. When I visited I was impressed by how everyone felt like theatre was so important and could have an impact. I had never met so many people that felt that way!
- Some close friends of my family asked me what I was planning to do for college. I told them I wanted to study theatre and they immediately told me to check out Belhaven. Honestly, it wasn’t the website that convinced me that God wanted me at Belhaven. There was nothing about the program that appeared starkly unique to other departments. The location was completely foreign to me. I knew no one in Mississippi. The nearest family would be a plane ride away. I think that the reason God wanted me here was because it didn’t make a lot of sense. It was the fact that it didn’t make much sense that I decided it was the right decision.
- I knew God called me here because He made it clear junior and senior year of high school that I was going to be doing theatre and I knew I didn’t want to go to a secular school. Belhaven has a wonderful department and upon visiting I really felt God say this was the place.
- I wanted a traditional theatre degree, and after talking to the faculty about what I would learn here, I believed I could receive the education I wanted. Then everything fell into place.
- I chose Belhaven because all of my family that went to college, came here. My sister in law was in theatre, and therefore I gained a realistic and truthful view of the theatre department. It was my only choice, because it was the only school I knew of that offered a good theatre program from a Christian perspective. I know it’s corny, but that’s the truth.
- I thought the Christian atmosphere would be good for me and support me as I pursue my profession. I also knew that anything I wanted to do was offered at Belhaven.
- I first heard about Belhaven’s theatre department from one of the students. I had heard about the program and how wonderful it was. Theatre was something I felt like God was calling me to study, but I didn’t know where or how. A lot of arts schools that I looked at just didn’t fit the bill and they had a very secular worldview. I knew God wanted me to study theatre but also maintain a strong relationship with him. How was I to do that while immersing myself in the theatre world? I had no clue. I knew one thing though, if I was really called to study theatre, God would provide a school that not only effective artistic training but one that also went to great measures to make sure their students were rooted and grounded in their faith. I came to Belhaven last April and I was blown away! The Belhaven Theatre department was exactly what I had been looking for. I knew the moment I sat in on one of the theatre classes that I had found an answer to prayer. There really were no more debates about where I was to go to school, Belhaven was it.
- I initially heard about Belhaven through Ballet Magnificat when I had seen a show through them. I was finishing up at my other school unsure of where to go or even what to do next. I was interested in dance and movement and was looking for a school that allowed me to learn about that. Belhaven had what seemed to be a strong program in “arts.” Also, it ended up being the school that gave me the most money. I felt led to pursue something involving theatre/movement and that is why I came to Belhaven.
- When my mom called me to the computer to show me a website for a school in Mississippi I said there was no way I was going to a school out of Texas to go to school, let alone go to Mississippi. When I visited though, the atmosphere immediately struck me as different. Everyone I met – not just in the department – was welcoming and sincere. After just one day on campus I knew this was the school for me. Ultimately it was the people at the school, their Godly, creative, and committed-to-excellence spirits that convinced me that I was supposed to come here. Everyone is committed to producing work with excellence and in the process, uplift one another at the same time.
- Belhaven was the last place I applied. In fact, I applied the last day applications were accepted. God doesn’t throw bricks at your head that pave the way you’re supposed to follow. The four other universities I was accepted to didn’t offer enough money in scholarships. Belhaven was the school where I had to take out the least amount of loans. I’d always heard that money shouldn’t stop you, but it does. That was God’s way of leading me toward Belhaven. I don’t know why, but I know this was the right decision. Walking in God’s will daily. I know for these four years, for reasons I don’t know or understand, this is the place he wanted me.
- I know someone who came here before and I came to visit her once. I wanted a Christian Arts School.
- I heard about Belhaven through a friend whose older sister went here. I decided to come to Belhaven Theatre department because there was a physical theatre aspect to the program. I wanted to see what physical theatre aspect was with a Christian mindset.
- I heard about Belhaven through directors I worked with in NY who had attended B.U. They had positive things to say about B.U. which led me to look into it. Stuff ending up falling through at other schools in weird ways and every road pointed to Belhaven. Even though I was skeptical, I really felt this was where God was calling me and He has confirmed that in so many ways over my 3 years here.
- Finances, location and seeing the production of Antigone
- I picked a school and had pretty much settled on going there. My mom said we should look one more time online to see if there were any other schools that would work. I didn’t want to because I liked the first school. When we looked on Google, Belhaven came up. I started talking to the faculty by email and came to visit. As soon as I stepped foot on campus I felt at home, truly a peace that went beyond understanding. There is no other school that I was supposed to go to.
- I fully intended not to come to Belhaven. I applied to Belhaven as my “safe school.” It was close to home, also, it made my mom happy. I visited the campus, auditioned, etc and was completely not convinced. I followed through with another school far away from Mississippi, had paid my housing deposit and was researching student loan opportunities online when God completely stopped me in my tracks. This overwhelming sense of dread came over me – I didn’t know why, but I was doing the wrong thing. That night, my mother told me that the Chair of the Belhaven Theatre department had called to see how I was doing and to offer his prayers, I burst into tears. I visited Belhaven again and as I walked down one of the flower lined paths on campus, I had another overwhelming sense – one of peace. It was certainly God’s sovereignty and love for me that got me to Belhaven. Without his guiding hand on my life I would not be the artist I am today.
We were blessed to host acclaimed mime performer Daniel Cossette as a guest instructor during the week of August 30 – September 3. Daniel was a Performance Journeyman with Mimeistry International (now the Innovo Theatre), and is now a Guest Artist working with Ad Deum Dance Company of Houston, TX.
Mr. Cossette worked with our first semester freshmen and transfer students taking our foundational course in movement for the performers – teaching fundamental techniques of mime and physicality on the stage.
Ben Cameron is an arts administrator, giving a short talk to the people at the TEDxYYC conference about the power and importance of the live performing arts; particularly in an era dominated by the internet and constant easy access entertainment.
Well it is that time of the year when we are quickly approaching our first production of the year. In celebration we have added a new way for you our patrons to reserve your tickets. Thus in addition to being able to call our box office at : (601) 965-7026,
you can email us still: firstname.lastname@example.org
we have added the ability to book tickets online by simply following this link: www.belhaven.edu/tickets
Enjoy this new feature and we look forward to seeing you at our productions! 🙂
Lifting the Veil