LOOK AWAY by Jerome Kilty opens February 12th

Student-directed Look Away will kick off the spring season of shows at Belhaven.  Student blogger, Eric Henderson shares his thoughts on this stirring piece of theatre being produced in our Second Stage space.


‘Everyone on the train seems to be reading my letters. I heard one man refer to me as though I were dead.’

                               -Mary Todd Lincoln, Look Away


It is my pleasure to announce that on Thursday February 12th, 2015 a two-act play based on Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress and confidant, Elizabeth Keckley will kick off our spring semester of shows. This compelling production is based upon the life and letters Mrs. Lincoln wrote to friends and family during President Lincoln’s terms, after his assassination, and during her stay in the Bellevue Hospital for the insane.

The action of the play occurs in that hospital on Mary Todd Lincoln’s last night of residence before her sanity hearing.  A stirring journey toward hope and recovery through avenues of grief, the first show of our spring season is not to be missed. Look Away was first presented at the Playhouse Theatre in New York City on January 7, 1973 with Geraldine Page as Mary Todd Lincoln and Maya Angelou as Elizabeth Keckley.

Belhaven University’s Theatre department prides itself on seeing their students explore their truest potential. With that being said, senior Theatre Production major Anna Bryant directs the show with conviction, enthusiasm, and fervor. Bryant says, “Mary Lincoln and I have the bond of both being Kentucky-born. Her story pulls at the very heartstrings of life. This story has tragedy, love, and friendship intertwined together giving you the woman who stood faithfully by one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.”

Look Away by Jerome Kilty runs Thursday, February 12th through Saturday, February 14th with performances nightly at 7:30 PM in our Second Stage space located in the Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free for Belhaven students, faculty, staff and their immediate families. For reservations, call 601-965-7026.

Video: 1960’s Stagehands

Here’s the link to a great documentary video from the 1960’s talking about being a stagehand.  50 years later, it’s surprising how similar it is to today – especially with larger productions touring the United States (the film shows people working on the original tour of My Fair Lady).

We often talk about how many jobs there are backstage – this shows those people in action.


Most of us are aware of understudies, actors who fill in for another actor who is sick or injured or otherwise can’t perform.  But with up to 10 jobs backstage for every person who is on stage – a similar system is necessary for crew people – lighting, sound, prop crew, costumes – and front of house (box office, house management, etc).  This is an ARTICLE about a guy whose  career is as a fill-in for company managers and house managers who need a replacement.

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.

Meanwhile… back in Rehearsal…

Last night’s rehearsal was splendid. If, in your language, splendid is defined as: the passing of two hours during which amiable conversation is made concerning blood, guts, howling winds, putrescence….well, you get the idea….basic dinner conversation.

The task in rehearsal last night involved divvying up the lines of the four young ladies playing the Chorus. Apparently the “poor women of Canterbury” have two styles: gross and grosser. Other extremely applicable synonyms include (gotta love dictionary.com) creepy, revolting, disgusting, repulsive. It’s true. Ask anyone in the cast!

After the gag-fest, our SM team got to work spiking the stage. All this means, is that  we are laying down visible tape that marks out the actual dimensions of the stage…it also means practicing your math skills. That’s why I left the numerical conversions to the much more talented Stage Manager!

Can’t wait to find out what comes from tonight’s rehearsal!

Stage Manager — Model of a Servant Leader

Being the completely-new-to-theatre person that I am, it will come as no as surprise to discover that I had never heard the term “stage manager” before coming here. Well guess what? I KNOW IT NOW! I discovered almost immediately that the Stage Manager of a show is the very picture of servant/leader, and deserves so much respect and gratitude.
For those of you out there who are as uninformed as I was when it comes to theatre, a stage manager is essentially the person in charge of keeping the show moving forward! That person is there from beginning, through auditions and every rehearsal, and eventually “calls” the show during performances. The reason I say that a stage manager is the ideal servant/leader, is that he/she is invariably in charge most of the time, and yet is also a servant to the needs of each person involved in the show.
Last fall, D.S. informed me that she would be stage managing for “Murder in the Cathedral” in the spring, and asked if i would like to be an Assistant Stage Manager. Well who am I to turn away an opportunity to display my vast theatrical ignorance?! I happily agreed, mostly because D.S. is one heck of a person, and I couldn’t possibly pass up a chance to work with her!
Well, two very large shows later, here we are; finally beginning rehearsals for “Murder in the Cathedral”. With the final member of our SM team, (S. B.-Assistant Stage Manager), we are full steam-ahead in this production! So far, one of my favorite parts of being an ASM is that I got to sit in on the casting process. It was a huge gift for me to be able to watch the creative process of choosing who would be cast. I saw a lot of thought and love poured into the decision-making, and it was beautiful to see.
As an Assistant Stage Manager, I try to make the Stage Manager’s job as easy as possible. That includes getting her coffee, doing whatever paperwork I can, helping prepare for rehearsals and meetings, and sometimes just singing in harmony while we take our minds off of things! Isn’t life as a theatre major fabulous?!

-G H

Gearing Up

We are getting ready for the new semester for all the changes and new opportunities that will come our way……

…… but I wanted to take a moment and remind all our current majors to go sign up for a google wave account.

Still not sure and a little uncertain about it please watch the video about it and try to think about all the ways we as a dept. work to communicate with eachother.  We hope to centralize a lot of that through Google wave and need you to have accounts to be a part of this communication shift for us.

Especially stage managers and those needing to receive rehearsal reports.

I see this as a great opportunity to try something new and see if we can make it work to our advantage.

So sign up and give me a wave!  I look forward to waving back with you 🙂

Here is the really long technical video if you are so inclined

I found a new love in the world of theatre……

My experience with the One Acts Festival started my freshman year, when (for some stupid reason that I do not even remember) I missed my chance to see the one and only performance.  Trust me, after hearing all about the show, I truly wished and still do wish I had been there.

The next year, I co-stage-managed for Philosophy of a Kiss, directed by Rachel Bowman.  (Before POK, I had only stage managed for a dance show at my high school)  At Belhaven, I quickly learned that calling a show is not the only job of the Stage Manager.  I don’t think I had any idea how important a stage manager is to a production.  I had an awesome time tapping into my very strong Type-A, oldest-child personality.  I loved all the organization and office supplies that I was required to use.  Making forms, calling late actors (almost every rehearsal), taking blocking notation, supporting the director…  I had found a new love in the world of theatre.

Junior year I was cast in The Collector, directed by my roommate, Moriah Whiteman.  Seeing as how I am a Production emphasis, I had only been in one other show at Belhaven.  I was a wee bit worried.  Jumping right in with my fellow cast mate, P.A.S., we had a real groovy time exploring and getting to know the characters.  Our rehearsals were not exactly what one would call normal.  We spent one rehearsal just wandering around the Center for the Arts, taking pictures.  Another time, we brought in five things that we found meaningful and told the story that each object held; these became the props we used for the show.

It was after The Collector that I pretty much begged Joe to let me take his directing class.  (I had to beg, because the directing class was not within my catalogue and I had not taking the Acting I class.)  I did not really have a desire to direct, but I wanted to learn what a director’s process is and how, as a designer or stage manager, I could better communicate with and aid Directors in their process.

This semester has been a huge learning process.  I am learning how to communicate with actors, stage managers, designers, and professors in a way that I have never had to before.  I am in charge of making sure that the story is told in the best way possible.  Talk about pressure.  My roommate and former director, Moriah Whiteman, wrote the script that I chose to use.

[Sic] is a strange and personal story and I have been very aware of upholding the integrity of the script and making sure that the story is told in a respectful manner.  My amazing cast and wonderful Stage Manager have made this process unforgettable.  I cannot wait for everything to come together, and to see how an audience responds to the story.  I have been so blessed by this directing experience, and by the vast and varied experiences, I have encountered through the One Acts Festival.

—– Senior Production Emphasis (CS)

The Stage Manager’s POV

Well, we are midway through the exciting annual One Act Festival process so we thought it would be a good time to ask the student Stage Manager’s a couple of questions to gain an little insight into their perspective.  Here is what they came up with:

1. What is currently the most exciting part of your job in the one acts?

  • –Anticipating my director’s needs
  • Seeing characters progress through two people acting, to characters from a play, to real-live characters that breathe life into words.
  • The most exciting part of my job is interacting with my cast and watching the show grow and change over time.  Shows always evolve so much from the first rehearsal to opening night, and it’s awesome to see what your cast learns and how they change.
  • The most exciting aspect of the One Acts currently for me is the organization (sounds nerdy, I know) and being the one behind the scenes getting stuff ready so that the Director and Actors have what they need so the rehearsals can run like they should.
  • — I’ve really enjoyed the collaboration between the director, the cast and I. It’s a HUGE responsibility to be in charge of taking down all of the blocking, making sure everyone knows when and where rehearsals are, and being sensitive to everyone’s needs but I’ve loved doing that. Knowing that I am trusted to keep the entire process running smoothly is daunting, but a challenge I feel I’m qualified to meet.
  • — I think the most exciting part of my job so far has been being able to be in rehearsal and see all the action.  I have liked working on the blocking notation, although Schneidering can be a tough one sometimes, it is fun and I like the experience.
  • The most exciting part of my job is watching the actors develop in their characters.
  • I think the most exciting part of being an SM right now is watching as the show continues to progress and blossom into an amazing show, so cool!
  • Scheduling all the different shows and being in a sense in charge of that
  • Being involved in the rehearsal process is, so far, the most exciting.  Blocking our show was my favorite part.
  • Setting up the rehearsal and tearing it down.

2. What has been the most challenging part of your job in the one acts?

  • — Obtaining accurate information about the performances
  • — Learning the boundaries of my job as to not speaking my own aesthetics opinion.
  • It is sometimes challenging for me to keep all the schedules, requests, calendars, forms, notes, meetings etc. under control.  Organization is not my strong point, so this has definitely been a challenge for me.  It’s a lot to keep track of and can be pretty overwhelming at time.
  • —  The biggest challenge for me so far has been staying within my job boundaries as the Stage Manager. When it comes to creative aspects of the show or something like getting the costumes checked out (which in this case is the director’s job), it has been difficult for me to just sit back and trust that whoever needs to get it done will do it. The type A side of me has been learning to trust in others over the past month…
  • I’ve struggled a little bit with having to remember and do so many duties at once. I have to follow the actors in the script while simultaneously following their blocking and listening to the random requests the director comes up with throughout rehearsals. My multitasking skills are being sharpened everyday in order to meet everyone’s needs and still keep focused on the tasks I have at hand. Another challenge is successfully taking down blocking in Schneider so that I’m able to relay the actors’ blocking to them whenever they have questions.
  • One thing I found challenging was getting certain deadlines/dates set from those that set those sort of things.  Another thing that was also challenging was keeping up with all the paperwork that comes with stage managing.  There are a lot of forms!!
  • The most challenging part of my job is working out all of the schedules among all the people.
  • Keeping up with blocking for a show that is only blocked in general stage directions is a little more difficult, not to mention, making up schneider for yoga is a bit challenging too! hahaha
  • Being on top of things that I am not always have been informed directly about
  • So far, the most challenging part of the process has been making forms for my prompt script.  There are so many!!!
  • Keeping up with all the paperwork and the ever developing blocking notes.

3. What are you most looking forward to that is yet to come in the this process?

  • — Calling the Show
  • Sitting in the booth on headset calling “light cue”
  • I’m really looking forward to calling a show for the first time.  Although I know I will be really stressed out, it’s one of those responsibilities that I really look forward to.  It’s just really exciting to get to performances and see everything come together!
  • I am really looking forward to getting to sit in the Stage Manager’s booth to call the show…. I saw the booth when I visited during Discover day ’07 and have always wondered what it would be like to sit there and call my own show.
  • The satisfaction that comes with calling a successful show on opening night!
  • —  Calling the show and seeing everything come together!!
  • I am most looking forward to watching the final show come together on show night.
  • I think I’m really looking forward ti seeing this onstage, and being up in the sm booth, calling the cues, and knowing that I am actually influencing the outcome of this production.
  • The show starting
  • I am most looking forward to calling the show.
  • —  Seeing the final show put on with all technical cues going at the right time.

4. What piece of advice would you want to give to next years Stage Managers?

  • — Don’t freak out about your job. Be a little stressed out, but don’t freak out. Freaking out helps no one.
  • As we learned in class paperwork is the most time consuming task… you should get it done FAST and FIRST!
  • Get your paperwork done as soon as possible!  There’s a lot of stuff that you can do even before auditions, and it will make your job SO much easier if you go ahead and knock it out before you really get into the process.
  • Take copious notes during class. Kris covers everything you need to know and they’re a great reference for when One Act time comes around. Do your paperwork beforehand- get it out of the way. Don’t procrastinate on anything- just get up and do it. And be AWSOME!! (One of you will be my SM next year 😀 muahahaha)
  • Something that I learned early on in Production Supervision-“You’ll never have as much time to do paperwork as you do before the first rehearsal.  Also, make your own forms so that you have them all on your computer and you don’t have to deal with trying to get the ones from the book blown up to the correct proportions on the copier!
  • 1.)Keep your forms ORGANIZED, it really helps when all the paperwork comes in. Also have your prompt script organized and labeled so things don’t get lost.  2.) SCHNEIDER ALL THE TIME! When it’s time to take blocking notes, it really helps to know your schneider and it can be difficult to try and read your key and take notes at the same time.  So Schneider when ever you can, it really is worth it. 3.) Remember this: “Prior planning prevents poor performance.” If you keep that in mind throughout this process then you will do just fine. 🙂
  • My piece of advice I would give to next year’s SMs would be to keep up with all of the paperwork.
  • I would say stay on top of your paperwork cause it will get you every time you get behind, it’s always really hard to catch up, no matter what you tell yourself!!
  • Learn how to be a good leader, and maintain your calm in stressful times
  • I would say, make sure you get your forms done early!  Even though there are so many, you will never get them all done in a timely fashion if your form making run into rehearsals.  It’s just not a good idea.
  • Paitience is key and keeping up with paperwork is a tedious but necessary task.