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

Transpositions: the Art in the Church Workshop

Transpositions, the blog of the students of University of St. Andrews’ Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts, has been hosting a ‘virtual workshop’ that includes posts from around the world on the topic of “Art in the Church.”  It started this past week, but links the the entries already posted are at the main page.  Some amazing ideas about the inclusion of the arts within the context of worship.  Check it out!

An already active semester

Just two weeks into the 2011 fall semester, and our department has already become a busy place. We will hopefully update soon with some pictures of our two APO (Alpha Psi Omega) sponsored events that have already happened this semester – the 24 Hour Theatre ‘Thing’ and the Fairy Tale Dance. Both events were great fun, and got our semester off to a great start.

Also already in progress are the rehearsals for our first production of the season, Sister Calling My Name by Buzz McLaughlin. Senior Dave Harris has had his cast of three in rehearsals since the first day of classes, and with the opening of the show less than two weeks away, preparations are coming together to make it another great evening of theatre.

Meanwhile, our designers and technical staff are also beginning preparations for the fall main stage production of Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like (from the children’s book by Jay Williams and Mercer Mayer) which will be directed by guest art McNair Wilson. The show will be performed outdoors at the Pavilion space on campus during the first week of November.

Next to all of this, rehearsals begin tonight for the first production put on by the Highland Players Guild – our new project of shows produced utilizing the alumni of our department. We will be performing Galileo by Bertolt Brecht during the week of Homecoming in late October.

Theatre Festival “opening ceremony”

With storms rolling through the Metro Jackson area, we’ve decided to move our ‘opening ceremony’ to the world wide web.  The storms will have passed through in time for the rest of the evening’s festival events to continue as scheduled.

Opening Address:

On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of the Theatre department, I would like to share a few thoughts on the Belhaven Theatre Festival, which officially begins this evening and continues through Saturday, April 16.  While this is our inaugural festival, it is our sincere hope to make this an annual event.

The idea of the festival grew out of our desire as a department to create as many opportunities as possible for students to showcase their talents, their interests, and their gifts, particularly when it comes to the creation of new theatre.  We are excited about the slate of events this year, including the visits of our guest artists Rich Swingle and C. McNair Wilson.

The word ‘festival’ is derived from the word ‘feast’, which was used to describe not only a celebratory meal (often during times of plentiful supply), but also in connection to a religious ceremony or celebration.

The Greek word ‘theatron’, which is the basis for our word ‘theatre’, literally translates as “a seeing place.”  The word contains the implication that the theatre is a place to perceive, to visit, the action that takes place there; action which often includes the presence of the divine.

It is our hope that the Belhaven Theatre Festival will be that place where we may come into contact with, and enable ourselves to perceive, the divine.  That it will be a time of plenty, and that it will be a time of celebration.  A celebration of our community.

Our prayer for the Festival:


Our Father

And Creator

We give you praise

We thank you for your gifts to us

We thank you for the opportunity to offer them back

We offer you this Festival

An offering of our time, our talents, our energies, our focus

May it be a blessing to you

May it be a blessing to the audiences you bring

May you speak your Truth through us

May you guide our work

May you keep us safe

May your presence be with us

And bless us

We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ


Knowledge in Hiding

I have to admit that SETC was very intimidating. I am no less intimidated by it now as I was before I went. Being around so many professionals and really good amateurs made me see that it doesn’t hurt to have higher expectations for myself. I learned a lot in the workshops that I went to. Some things were things I could apply immediately, such as some makeup techniques, while other things were interesting enough but I will not be able to use them at this point in time. One workshop, “Lighting for the Camera,” I went to because I liked the name of it. I realized that it was very different from what I thought the subject matter was going to be. I hadn’t given much thought to the name. At first I thought since it was in a totally different area of the theater that I hadn’t been going to workshops for, that I would get nothing out of it. But actually in that workshop I learned more than all of my other workshops put together. Just a few things I had never known: that daylight is the coolest light, how to light a person’s face effectively, Fuji film is good for photographing greens while Kodak is good for photographing reds, and the importance of white balancing a camera. I never would have dreamed that my “oops” workshop would be the one that I would enjoy the most.


The loss of a playwright

As many of you are probably already aware, the terrorist attack on the Domodedovo airport near Moscow on Monday, January 24, claimed the lives of 35 and injured more than 100.  Among those who lost their lives that day was an emerging Ukranian playwright by the name of Anna Yablonskaya. While I have no knowledge of Ms. Yablonskaya’s writing, I can’t help but feel the loss of a fellow playwright.  Our prayers and concerns go out to her family and friends, particularly her husband and daughter.

BBC News article

Guardian article

Stage vs. Screen – theme?


This is a New York Times article by Jason Zinoman that reviews a stage adaptation of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” the novel which inspired the classic sci-fi film, Bladerunner.  There is a casual statement early in the article that I found intriguing…

“a downtown play is a better forum than a Hollywood blockbuster for a grim meditation on religion, consumerism and what it means to be human.”

I’ve been thinking about this comment in the past few days since I first saw the article, wondering if it’s true; that the forum of ‘a downtown play’ in and of itself is a better place for discussing issues so central to our existence.  Certainly, I believe that the immediacy and presence of live theatre has the potential to take the discussion of issues such as these and deepen them in a very personal way, that a significant impression can be made on the audience of a theatrical presentation.  And while I believe that some artists have been able to stretch the medium of film to create works with lasting effect, the category of movies with the label ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ rarely even attempt to function on that level.  ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ films might be more comparable to ‘Broadway entertainment’ – where the form and purpose of the work is often more likely attempting to amuse or excite an audience, rather than to consider or examine the significant issues of their lives and a new way.  And if that’s true, then those of us who are called to work in the theatre (particularly the kind which might deserve the label ‘downtown’) might consider that the scope of our work should perhaps include “religion, consumerism and what it means to be human.”

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.