Stage Combat guest artist Lauren Gunn

Lauren Gunn instructing unarmed stage combat in Seminar, September 2017

Lauren Gunn executes a non-contact stage slap on BFA Musical Theatre major Christy Robeson.

For a Friday Seminar session a few weeks ago, we were treated to a stage combat workshop by MFA candidate Lauren Gunn – who previously served our department as administrative assistant a few years ago.  She is working on her graduate degree in acting at the University of Southern Mississippi, and brought some of her training in unarmed stage combat back to share with our students.  A lot was learned in a short time, but we are looking forward to the opportunity to have Ms. Gunn return for further instruction in the future!

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.

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

Devised Theatre Workshop with Alex Grubbs

Alex Grubbs instructing students on principles of Devised Theatre

On Friday, Oct 12, we had a visit from one of our alumni, Alex Grubbs (’08).  Alex and his wife Bonnie (who is receiving the distinguished Young Alumni award from Belhaven this fall) now live in NYC after completing their masters educations, Bonnie in Education at Mary Baldwin College and Alex in Acting from the University of Virginia.

Students showcasing their combined Devised works

Alex led a workshop of students combined from several classes in exercises in Devised Theatre – a process of collaborative creation for works of theatre.  After some brief introductory exercises and discussions, students developed short works based on personal stories of their fellow classmates, then combined those individual pieces into group performances.

Students working with Alex Grubbs on individual pieces of Devised work

C. McNair Wilson – guest artist

McNair WilsonWe are glad to be hosting guest artist C. McNair Wilson during the second weekend of this year’s Belhaven Theatre Festival, for a performance of his one-man show From Up Here on Friday, April 15 at 7 pm.  Wilson is a sought-after speaker and performer, a director and author; a former Disney Imagineer and is the co-founder of IMAGINU!TY Unlimited.  He will be visiting our classes and sharing with the theatre students during our weekly departmental meeting, as well as leading a creativity seminar open to the Belhaven community on Saturday the 16th.  For more info on McNair (and to check out his books and videos) visit his website or his blog.

Commencement speaker – Makoto Fujimura

Our university president, Dr. Roger Parrott announced on his blog that the 2011 Spring Commencement speaker for Belhaven University will be renowned artist Makoto Fujimura, head of the International Arts Movement headquartered in New York City.  We are excited to have such a distinguished speaker on campus and look forward to the opportunity to hear his address on April 30.

Guest Artist Rich Swingle!

Actor Rich Swingle will be joining us during the first weekend of the upcoming Belhaven Theatre Festival to share his one-man performance of Beyond the Chariots, the story of Olympian Eric Liddell (whose life story served as the basis for the film Chariots of Fire), on Saturday April 9.  He has presented this piece Off-Broadway, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and in the cities of Beijing, Vancouver and Singapore during the Olympic Games.  Rich is the theatre program director for the MasterWorks Festival each summer, is on the board of directors for Christians in Theatre Arts, and was on the planning committee for Media and Arts at the Lausanne Congress on World EvangelizatioRichSwingleHeadshotn in Cape Town, South Africa.

Rich will also be guest speaking with several of our class sessions, instructing a workshop in SocioDrama, and presenting at our weekly Departmental meeting on his experience with the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action.

Art Factory

I just wanted to do a quick post and shout out to a place of healing and art.
…. and has a cool Belhaven connection as some of the founders of this place are the parents one of our theatre students here at Belhaven…. 🙂

The Art Factory Revealed from Rick & Mary Beth Holladay on Vimeo.

Opportunities for visual artists and those supporting the visual arts in Europe. The Art Factory is a faith-based initiative to rediscover the possibility of a creative and restorative relationship with God and encourage and enjoy the making of art.

Erin Brownfield – guest artist and almunus

Guest Artist and Alumnus, Erin Brownfield, speaking in Departmental Meeting on October 22, 2010

Guest Artist and Alumnus, Erin Brownfield, speaking in Departmental Meeting on October 22, 2010

We were pleased and blessed to have alumnus Erin Brownfield (’10) return to Belhaven to share her experiences auditioning and working for the Disney corporation as an amusement park character performer.  She had this to share here on our blog:

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Belhaven after graduating from there this past May. What brought me back was to catch up with people and to see the department’s production of “Juliet + Her Romeo”. The play was brilliant in all aspects and simply was amazing. Beautiful job all the way around.

Since graduating from Belhaven, I have been working for the Disney Company at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I am one of the Character Performers there. While pursuing this job, I was also able to use a few things I had learned from my years at Belhaven. For instance, I was able to present the company with a professional resume and headshot while some of the other people auditioning were not. I also was able to go into the audition with full confidence and focus. In other words, Belhaven helped give me a firm theatre foundation which I could stand upon.

Anyway, I hope the year continues to go well for all of you. Break a leg in all your future endeavors!

Erin Brownfield

Guest Designer — Kate Pierson

We were honoured the last 3 weeks to have Kate Pierson in residence as our Guest Costume Designer.  Kate is a gifted Costumer Designer from the Northwest US and was willing to make the trip to Belhaven in the Deep south and collaborate with us on our current production of Juliet and her Romeo.

I wanted to share her design notes with you and a pictorial form of the costume plot for the show because I think it demonstrates what a challenge this show was to design and chart especially from a costuming standpoint and how a story and concept can be told and supported by the design elements of a production.  Enjoy.

Juliet & her Romeo — Designer Notes

How to dress 8 actors playing 25 roles that are changing in every scene?

Juliet & her Romeo has been one of the most challenging designs I have ever done due to the sheer complexity of the logistics of fitting many different sized bodies into one costume and still retain the believability of character and fluidity of movement for the play.

The first directives that were given to me consisted of ideas of exploration, movement and flight; I wasn’t bound by a time or place, or by a color palette that depicted familial ties (which is often used in costumes for Romeo & Juliet).  Combined with the complexity of the actor/scene/character changes I knew I had to find a style that would support the nature of the play as well as offer some flexibility of style…Steampunk occurred to me fairly early on.

I believed the romantic yet edgy nature of the steampunk style, which melds together the future with the past worked well with the multifaceted direction of the director’s vision.  Because any particular costume piece needed to be worn by several actors as well as be easily donned and doffed I gave them an industrial and romantic functionality to the costumes; using basic black dancewear as the background canvas, adaptable pieces such as coats and vests fronts and a wide range of accessories and costume props with lots of embellishment the costumes became useful tools to help identify the characters.


is a sub-genre of science fictionalternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s.[1] Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistictechnology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashionculturearchitectural styleart, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.

Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigiblesanalog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage‘sAnalytical engine.

Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.

Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.


Again Thank you to Kate and all her hard work and effort in collaborating and helping us produce this production.  Please forgive me for the cell phone photos of the renderings they really are beautiful!