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2011-2012 Highlights from Chair Jeff Wittman
It has been an extremely active year with our students learning the theories and practice of theatre, serving the community, and becoming outstanding artists and citizens.
Our newest program in Teacher Certification in Theatre Arts PK-12 has gone from zero students to six students in one year. Our expanded performing arts scholarship competition has provided us with 30 current scholarship holders, 16 of which will enter as freshman this fall of 2012.
The 2011 fall semester included the first-ever collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts in downtown Lynchburg and our Theatre Department with the co-production of the musical Babes in Arms. Much of the staff and many students of the School of Communication and the Arts were involved in the orchestra, pre-show lobby music, a playbill graphic arts competition, and of course our students executing the show backstage and performing on stage. The cast included LC students, local high school students, and seasoned community actors. This event raised the profile of our School in the region, and created a vital partnership as we find new directions for our art.
Also in the fall semester we linked the advanced acting class with a Communications Studies production course for work in the Schewel Hall Television Studio. These students were in front of the camera for commercial work, soap opera scenes, and film scenes. We had an October visit and presentation from alumna Jen Faulconer '07, actress, historical interpreter, and business owner: http://kingdomofazuria.wordpress.com
Our fall production of Almost, Maine included the creation of an intimate thrust setting placed on the stage of the Dillard Theatre. This play, along with our fall Dance Works Concert, sold out all performances. The Spring Semester brought guest directors Nan and Melora Kordos to work with our students on The Miss Firecracker Contest and The Laramie Project. The Laramie Project created cross-campus activities and discussion of hate crimes and tolerance.
Dance Works continued their strong alumni connections by guest choreographers, and the planning of a November 2012 trip to New York City. Their service in the local community included a performance at the Central Virginia Training Center, and a dance clinic for elementary and middle schools, which culminated in a choreographed children's piece in the spring dance concert.
Our links with local schools and recruitment continue by play festival adjudications, arts days at area middle schools, our teacher certification program, and attendance at the Virginia Theatre Conference.
This coming fall we welcome new faculty member Geoff Kershner. Mr. Kershner graduated with a BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and received an MFA in Directing from Florida State University. Geoff is no stranger to Lynchburg College Theatre, having served with us previously as an instructor, as well as directing the cutting edge plays Marisol and Eurydice on the Dillard stage. He is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of the Endstation Theatre Company, in residence at Sweet Briar College each summer. As a certified stage combatant, Geoff will teach our first ever stage combat course in the spring semester. We welcome Geoff and his wife Ashley back to their Central Virginia home, and to our LC community.
Lynchburg College recently entered into a partnership with Historic Sandusky, a house museum located near the LC campus. Historic Sandusky is a registered Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is one of the finest examples of Federal style architecture in Virginia's Piedmont region and is on the Civil War Trails tour. We look forward to working with Barbara Rothermel, Director of the Daura Gallery, for possible involvement in live historical interpretation, as well as singing, dance and dramatic presentations there.
Lynchburg College faculty and students directed and performed in the Academy of Fine Arts musical theatre production of Hello, Dolly! in May to sold-out houses. Our students are involved this summer at the American Theatre Wing and Maggie Flanagan Studio in New York City. Recent graduates Ashley Byrne and Matt Akers are working for Samuel French, Inc., also in New York. Alumni Adam Kaufman appeared in the cable TV series Mad Men. Other alumni, currents students and staff are involved this summer locally at Endstation Theatre, the Academy of Fine Arts, Showtimers, Wolfbane Productions, and The Little Town Players. For a full look at theatre calendars and other arts in the area, go to www.lynchburgtickets.com.
Our efforts to upgrade the Dillard Theatre continue as we as we lay the groundwork for a refurbishment of the lighting system. Recent improvements have come in the form of new heating and air conditioning, a new roof on the Dillard Complex, and new scenic shop tools.
We would love to hear from you. If you have news, please share it with us on our Facebook page: StageNotes - Lynchburg College Theatre Newsletter at http://www.facebook.com/groups/196653727046998/ or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes to all of our LC theatre students, graduates, alumni, and friends!