Theater department slated to have a stellar year

By now you’ve figured out where your classes are and when you have to be where … right? What about free time? It’s not all going to be used studying, is it?

Oscar Wilde said, “The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.” If “life” is what you’re looking for, you will find it this fall in the theatre arts department.

This fall’s performance is a riveting play, “Enemy of the People,” written by Henrik Ibsen. It was translated and adapted by former artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Jerry Turner.

The story takes place in the early 1920s in a small-town community on the Northwest Oregon Coast. Dr. Thomas Stockmann, a public-minded doctor in a small town famous for its public baths, discovers that the water supply for the baths is contaminated and has probably been the cause of some illness among the tourists, who are the town’s economic lifeblood. In his effort to clean up the water supply, Stockmann runs into political cowards, sold-out journalists, shortsighted armchair economists and a benighted citizenry. His own principled idealism exacerbates the conflict.

Will medical science or the manipulative political agendas prevail? That question and more will be answered when director Christine Menzies, scene and lighting designer Glenn Gauer, costume designer Sandra Rocha Kaufman, and the performers take the stage Nov. 15-17 and Nov. 20-23 in Lincoln Hall. Ticket’s cost $7 to $9.

The two remaining plays scheduled for production are “Venus,” by Suzan Lori-Parks. Karin Magaldi will direct it during winter term. “The Hostage,” by Brendan Behan, will be directed by Glenn Gauer in the spring. All three plays have a thread of political, moral and social correctness throughout, proving the theatre department isn’t afraid to present performances that stir human consciousness.

With a new chairwoman, Sarah Andrews-Collier, the first woman ever to hold the position in the history of the theatre department, a new focus is in the spotlight. Andrews-Collier, at PSU since 1981, has not only taught courses such as Women’s Theatre in Society as part of a woman’s study course, but she continues to head the costume department as well.

For the past nine years, the theatre arts chairperson was Bill Tate.

“I’ve been the chair for quite a while now,” Tate said. “And while it’s a very challenging and rewarding position, I’m looking forward to just teaching this year.”

“There are new elements to this position,” Andrews-Collier said. “Recruiting is becoming more and more a factor for us. Our budgets are very student-enrollment driven.

“Not only do we want to give theatre students the opportunity to learn about the theatre; we want them to participate in it as well. Just as it’s vital for the chemistry department to have it’s lab, it’s equally imperative we have the theatre.”

All PSU students, regardless of major, are eligible to participate in theatre arts’ productions and activities. The Theatre Arts Student Organization (TASO) sponsors its own drama productions as well as numerous other activities throughout the year.

“You don’t have to be a theatre arts major to audition or to even participate in the numerous classes we offer,” Andrews-Collier said.

“Art completes what nature cannot bring to finish,” wrote Aristotle. In supporting the theater as well as all of the arts, we participate in the evolution of our own definition.