by Sharyn Kopf — Marketing
December 1, 2009
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”
— Alfred Hitchcock
How do you measure success? By years or by accomplishment? Cedarville University’s theatre program may be young, but it has already proven its viability. For instance, this past August, the program did surprisingly well in the Miami Valley DayTony Awards. Every year, local theatre people adjudicate each other’s plays by filling out ballots. The points are then accumulated, and awards are presented at an annual gala.
These awards of merit or excellence recognize outstanding performance, on stage and behind the scenes. In its first year of consideration, Cedarville made its presence known by taking home 15 DayTonys, including Best Overall Collegiate Production for last spring’s presentation of Tuesdays With Morrie.
If “all the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare said, then it shouldn’t be too hard for theatre grads to move from college to career. This has proven to be true in Cedarville’s case, as graduates have found success as technical directors, scene painters, producers, directors, writers — and especially actors.
“They are performing in England, Germany, and Cyprus, besides those acting in Hollywood,” said Bob Clements, assistant professor of communication arts. “When you consider a program as small and young as ours, that’s pretty significant.”
Consider, for instance, Abbie (McGaha) Cobb. After only a few years in Hollywood, she recently finished filming a supporting role in a made-for-TV Disney movie titled Starstruck, which will air early in 2010.
Or take Rob Rasmussen ’07, who serves as a production technician for stages on the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which is now the world’s largest cruise ship with a capacity of 5,400 passengers. Susan (DeConcini) Larouere ’05, a professional scene painter, has worked on shows with Tony award-winning set designers. Then there’s John Black ’09, technical director at the International School in Seoul, Korea. Having grown up in Korea, John returned to take a position working in the school’s three theatres. Finally, Josh Canfield ’03, who recently moved from London, England to New York City, has written a musical titled Better Than Nothing and is currently looking for backing to get it produced.
“Our graduates are very well-rounded,” Clements commented. “We believe the more prepared you are, the better you’ll do.” In fact, the theatre faculty stress the importance of students learning everything so they can do anything, making them more marketable in their job hunt.
This well-rounded faculty includes Rebecca Baker, whose wide range of experience includes a master’s in voice therapy and numerous contacts in area art communities. Dr. Diane Conrad-Merchant ’78 guides students through the educational and historical side of theatre and is an excellent source for finding student internships.
When it comes to classical theatre, Matthew Moore ’92 — who just finished his M.F.A. in classical acting — is the resident expert. Mischelle (Waddle) McIntosh ’77 serves as an assistant professor of communication arts and media research, with a focus on documentary film. And for technical direction, lighting design, and set design, Cedarville turns to technical directors Donald Jones and Clements.
“I appreciate how hard the professors work to get us where we need to be to achieve our dreams,” said Matthew Scheerschmidt ’12. “They are dedicated to equipping us for a future in any aspect of theatre.”
Take a Bow
The theatre program has seen great strides, and faculty and students alike are excited about their many achievements. But for all their success, Clements admits the department has room to grow. So they continue to ask questions like “How can we improve?” and “Where do we go from here?” But as they work toward answering those questions, the Cedarville theatre program knows its mission.
“We are not called as Christians to do the extraordinary,” said Clements, “but to do the ordinary extraordinarily well. In that way we have an impact … and theatre provides plenty of opportunities to evangelize and encourage people in the community.”
Senior Amy Eiler agrees. “The beautiful thing about our art,” she said, “is that we’re given the opportunity to show God’s creation — human beings — in their most vulnerable positions. With the stage as our tool, we allow a part of humanity to be pictured that you don’t always see in everyday life. This is how God prepares Cedarville’s theatre majors for Kingdom work.”
To find out more about studying theatre at Cedarville University, visit www.cedarville.edu/theatre.