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East Texas Baptist University Theatre in Marshall takes a bow

by From Staff Reports | November 29, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

MARSHALL, Texas The ETBU School of Communication and Performing Arts took the stage recently for its productions of Sylvia by A.R. Gurney and Any Body for Tea? by C.B. Gilford. Two ETBU graduating seniors directed the shows to simulate Texas UIL One Act Play competitions and prepare them for their future careers.

"In our curriculum, the BSE Theatre Education student learns the performance and technical aspects of the theatre," said ETBU Associate Professor of Theatre Arts John Dement. "They also learn the history and cultural influences they will need to teach the next generation. From a practical standpoint, when our BSE Theatre Education majors graduate, they have chosen, cut, directed, and designed all aspects of a University Interscholastic League One Act Play show."

Senior theatre arts education major Avrie Chapman directed Sylvia, a story about a man and his dog, and the binding force behind the presence of love.

"ETBU has definitely prepared me for the real world in many ways," Chapman said. "I have learned how to be more independent than I ever have been before, I have made lifelong friendships, I learned how to teach my future students, and just recently had my first directing opportunity."

The second production, Any Body for Tea?, was directed by senior theatre arts education major Anna Simmons. The show encompasses the power of the mind as a few of the main characters, though challenged physically by old age, are always thinking one step ahead and leave audiences intrigued with dark but witty humor.

"Directing this show was challenging, but it was so rewarding," Chapman said. "Oddly enough, my greatest challenge was myself. Having never directed a show before, I had to present my ideas in a way that made people know I was sure of them, even if they were not the best ones."

While the shows vary greatly in terms of style, pacing, and story, the lessons learned about directing theatre productions remain similar as both Chapman and Simmons prepare to graduate from ETBU and pursue their respective careers.

"Both shows (Nov. 18 and Nov. 19) were tremendous in their final productions," Dement said. "Our audiences were very pleased when they left, with only great things to say about the actors and their student directors. I know that Avrie and Anna Beth learned many things along the way, but what I hope they took away from this experience was the satisfaction of seeing a show through the entire process to end in success."

(Marshall is located about 65 miles south, southwest of Texarkana.)

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