Dr. Campbell visits Belhaven

We are pleased to welcome back Dr. Lou Campbell, founding chair of Belhaven’s Theatre Department this week!  Dr. Lou spoke in Belhaven’s chapel service on Tuesday morning, and will spend time with various classes on campus this week – in Theatre, Dance, International Studies, and sharing in several department meetings this Friday.  We are glad to have him back with our students, sharing his passion for the Lord and for the arts, his heart of international missions and physical theatre, and his decades of experience in the balancing of his family and his calling.

Any alumni in the Jackson area this week are welcome to come by the campus and see Dr. Lou and Laura – especially as he shares with the department at our 3:30 meeting this Friday.

Dr. Lou Campbell shares in Belhaven Chapel, Nov 5, 2013

The Scenic Artist

I have often found that many people don’t understand how scenic painting works.  The fact that we can make a bare stage look like anything we want with the right brushes, rollers, or other tools seems like a foreign concept to some.  I think part of this is a lack of understanding of what a scenic artist does.  We don’t just make it up as we go along.

There are specific tools that we can use, and certain types of paint that work better than others.  But knowing all the different tools and paints that are available to use is half the battle.   Knowing the differences between paint and glaze, or a regular brush and a chip brush.  To most a paint brush is a paint brush, and a sponge is just something you use in the kitchen sink.  However, a sponge to a scenic artist, is also something that you can use to make stone come alive with dimension, to add depth to something that looks flat, or to age a piece of furniture.  The list of things a scenic artist can do with any given tool is long; and depending on what job needs to be done will determine what tools will be use.  Sometimes those tools will vary depending on what paint is being use.  So again, one of the most important things to remember, is to have a good basic understanding of what is used when it comes to scenic painting.

The Educational Theatre Association has put together a great list of what is required for Painting The Scene.  The article goes in depth into the different tools and paint that are used, as well as multiple different techniques that can be done with the brushes that you have at your disposal.  It is an great resource and you should save it for future reference.

So the next time you pick up a paint brush remember that it can be used for something other than just slapping paint onto something.

Catching up on the Spring Semester 2012!

In the flurry of activities at the end of our spring semester left us a bit behind on blogging through our process.  We apologize, and offer the following recap of the end of the spring 2012:

March – The beginning of the month saw about a dozen students and three faculty members head off to the Southeastern Theatre Conference convention in Chattanooga, TN.  Faculty presented as part of panel discussions, attended Undergraduate Auditions, staffed our information booth, and took part in the leadership meetings for SETC; students participated in workshops, auditioned and interviewed for professional summer work, auditioned for graduate study, competed (and won) in the improv comedy competition.  A great conference year, and an opportunity we look forward to every year – convention will be held in Louisville, KY in 2013.

April – A busy time of the year for us as we wrap up our production and academic calendar.  Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing was directed by senior Eleanor Baxter in our intimate Theatre 151 space.  Ms. Baxter then followed up the closing of that show by performing her Senior Recital two days later!

The last week of the semester saw our 2012 Belhaven Theatre Festival, which featured 11 different events, from staged readings, class presentations, original productions, music concerts, improv comedy, and a presentation from our Alpha Psi Omega student-led organization.  A great tradition – which leaves us all both inspired and exhausted!

After the semester concluded, 10 students from both the theatre and dance departments at Belhaven went on a two-week trip to visit The Art Factory, a missions organization in Kandern, Germany.  While there, students worked at the Factory (doing various cleaning and organizing tasks), led workshops in dance, acting, and improv comedy, visited Black Forest Academy to lead chapel services in both the high school and middle school, and presented Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  We were very grateful for the hospitality of Rick and Mary Beth Holladay, who head up the work of the Art Factory, and look forward to future connections with their work for the kingdom.

There are many more exciting things happening in the community and work around Belhaven University’s theatre department – we promise to be more active in sharing our joys, struggles, thoughts, processes and news with you in the future!

The Three Sisters opens!

We opened The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov this past Friday, February 18.  The show is directed by faculty member John Maxwell, and features 3 of our graduating seniors (Danielle Davis, Marie Warner, and Scott Gaines) in their final mainstage performances as students at Belhaven.  We’ve already had great responses from our first weekend audiences, and there are more performances to come – this Wednesday through Saturday!

Juliet and Her Romeo – Director’s Note

Marie Warner and Scott Gaines perform the final scene in Juliet and Her Romeo

Marie Warner and Scott Gaines perform the final scene in Juliet and Her Romeo

I’m not usually one who likes to write director’s notes, but given the nature of our production’s experiment, it was necessary to give the audience a bit of a glimpse into our reason’s for the style of our presentation…

Romeo and Juliet is quite simply one of the most popular plays of the English language.  It has been a crowd-pleaser since its initial presentation by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the late 1590s, and has been performed countless times all over the globe.  The story, drawn from elements of the Pyramus and Thisbe story in Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the feud between the Montechi and Cappaletti families mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy, has inspired innumerous artworks, musical pieces, ballets, operas, plays, films, anime, and even a recent version of the tale created via Twitter feed.  The tragedy of the star-crossed lovers has become so ingrained in the global culture that the image of the balcony scene and even the names of the characters are synonymous with young romantic love.

We have called our production of the play Juliet and Her Romeo for several reasons; to separate this production from a traditional staging of the play, because those are the last four words of the text, and the re-arrangement of the original title provided an opportunity to re-examine the relationship of the title characters.  It is in the spirit of this third reason that we formulated the ‘experiment’ of this production.

The experiment was to take a play as iconic as Romeo and Juliet, and discover a way to break it down into its individual parts, to allow an audience the opportunity of examining those parts (the scenes) in a unique way, by attempting to treat each scene individually.  This led to the decision to cast each of the scenes of the play individually, to have our eight actors constantly switching roles from scene to scene – someone playing Juliet may be the Nurse next, followed by Lord Capulet.  Since each scene was to be treated individually, through rehearsal, we discovered that there were some scenes where a sense of pluralism, through having multiple actors play a single part at once, provided another layer to the scene.  Creating a unique experience and view for each scene also led to our decision to alter the seating arrangement several times during the show, to physically change the point of view during the course of the performance.

This production would not be possible but through the brave and gracious efforts of the cast, crew, designers, technicians, artists and servants listed in the program.  It is our sincere hope that our hard work will be a blessing to you, and bring glory to our God.

Joseph Frost

Chair of Theatre

Director, Juliet and Her Romeo

Juliet & Her Romeo

What do you get if you have Aerial Silks, Steam Punk, a Cast of 8, moving banks of Audience seating, a Black Box theatre and a Director willing to approach this classic tale in a new way …….

Why our next production of course!

Directed by Joseph Frost our experimental presentation of Shakespeare classic tragedy of young love is sure to intrigue, entertain, and keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next.  You will not want to miss this production.

Juliet & her Romeo

Juliet & her Romeo

Also a big thank you to the Belhaven Theatre Graphic Design Department for this great poster design.

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

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:

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

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.