5th Annual One Act Play Festival!

November 30 and December 1 are the performance dates for the 5th Annual Belhaven University One Act Play Festival!

Since 2006, Belhaven has produced a One Act Play Festival at the end of each Fall semester, a culminating collaborative project between the students in the Directing and Production Supervision classes.  In various years, the production of the festival has also included contributions from students in either Lighting or Technical Resources class as well.

The One Act Festival is produced in a ‘dessert theatre’ format, the audience will sit at tables to enjoy a treat during the performances, which will appear on two stages in the theatre (to shorten the transition time between plays).  Admission to the show is free, and all dessert sales go to benefit Iota Upsilon, Belhaven’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega national theatre honorary society, sponsors of several community service and performance projects.

In past years, the students of the Directing class were on their own to find the material they would produce, which has given us a variety of material, from short plays by well-known, established playwrights, some lesser-known contemporary writers, and at least once each year, a brand-new original play.  This year, we decided to do something a little different.

The plays this year were chosen as the winners of the 2010 Belhaven University One Act Play Contest.  Scripts were submitted from all over the country by the beginning of September, and were read by the students, who each chose a winning play to direct.  This year, we are pleased to be presenting the following original plays:

Lucy Dreaming by Stacey Lane – directed by Becki Haynes
Los Libros Malos by D. Richard Tucker – directed by Deanna Smith
I, Satan, Confess by Moriah Whiteman – directed by Scott Gaines
Positive Thinking by Seth McNeill – directed by Dave Harris
Borders by Mallory Alexa Leonard – directed by Marie Warner
King Thrush Beard by Rosh Raines – directed by Lex Quarterman
Degrees of Repossession by Bret Kenyon – directed by Danielle Davis

4 of these playwrights are graduates of Belhaven, and 3 we are pleased to welcome as new associates to our theatre program!

With the success of this year’s contest, we are excited to see what next year’s contest has in store!  For more information about submission guidelines and deadlines, send an email to  “theatre at belhaven.edu” with the subject line 2011 One Act Play Contest.

Talent or Determination?

New York Times Article

This is an article from the New York Times that talks about the source from which achievement or excellence in a field might emerge; is it the always elusive natural ‘talent’ or the determination to improve one’s skills?

It has for a long time been our perspective that while some people may be gifted by God with a certain amount of natural talent, anyone is capable of improving their natural skills through concentrated and focused effort.  In the world of theatre, film and entertainment, it is not always the most gifted which survive the field for the long term, but those who find ways of continuing to work, improve and contribute, even if they aren’t the star – that being a part of the theatre IS success in the field, not the spotlight.

This article mentions that it takes 10 years of “deliberate practice” to excel in a particular field.  Others have quoted an investment of more than 10,000 hours of focused rehearsal and study (about 1.15 years, if you practiced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 59 1/2 weeks in a row – which would be neither possible nor effective).  Most students entering college level study in the field of theatre have less experience in deliberate practice than in what might be called ‘theatre activity’ – games, performances and events which are more about the participation than about concentrated, evaluated experience which progresses the skill and produces work of consistently higher quality performance.  And it is unlikely that any student, after completing 4 years of college, can fully reach the “10,000 hours” necessary to reach the level of accomplishment to which most students aspire – even if they arrive with a high level of ‘talent.’

But what we strive to accomplish, as educators, is to shift the mindset of our students from theatre activity to focused practice of the art of theatre, provide the template for rehearsal and study which will improve their skills, and set them on the life path where they continue the journey towards excellence in their field, enabling them to apply those skills in the service of their fellow theatre practitioners and the audience for their work, allowing the Lord to work through their dedicated efforts.

Interactive Theatre for Advertising?


An alcoholic beverage company has commissioned artists of a theatre company called Punchdrunk known for interactive and immersive theatre pieces to create an experience for audience members which involves traveling from site to site where people drinking their beverage can be found.  A new approach to advertising!

Actor/ Audience relationship

A New York Times article about shows that were successful in their Off-Broadway productions, but struggle in their Broadway incarnation with the changed venues.  Off Broadway theatres are typically smaller houses (often 500 seats or less), whereas Broadway theatres can be much largers (up to 1500 seats).  The change in the relationship of the performance and the audience can greatly alter the perception of the show itself – some plays are intimate, others are on a grand scale – and attempting to translate an intimate production into a house built for grand presentations can be a challenge for designers, actors and directors.

This is why we are pleased to have a flexible, Blackbox theatre at Belhaven, where we have the ability to make adjustments to the space to fit the scale of the production itself – moving the seating in or out or even away to suit the show – and have our Theatre 151 space for productions that are “ultra-intimate” (about 35 seats…).