The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Third Show Added to Theatre Season

3 min read

Staff Writer

After petitioning President Rick Hurley for the restoration of lost funds, the Department of Theatre and Dance received $35, 000, allowing them to add a third show to their season.

At the end of last year, the theatre department experienced budget cuts after the state slashed funds to the university.

Due to the reduction in finances, many theatre students were disappointed and decided to send letters to Hurley.

“I first learned about the impact of the budget cuts on the theatre department through a letter received from the chair of the department, Greg Stull,” Hurley said. “Later, I received a number of letters from students asking that the funds be restored and lamenting the impact of the cuts on their efforts to receive the broadest based degree.  I was persuaded by the arguments and directed that the theater department’s budget be increased to allow for a third production.”

According to Paul Messplay, executive director of budget analysis, Hurley made the department’s concerns known.

“Funding to support an additional production through the theatre department was identified as a priority by President Hurley during the development of the 2010-11 budget,” Messplay said.

The additional funds were supported primarily from student tuition and fees, according to Messplay.  He said other resources were state funding and identified budget savings.

Before earning back the funds, the theater department planned to showcase two main-stage shows as opposed to the four they regularly do. In addition, the department did not have the money to produce any student-run shows in Studio 115.

“We thought we might send letters to President Hurley and try to convey just how disappointing and difficult this was going to make things for the students,” senior Cassandra Lewis said. “After all, Klein Theatre had just been beautifully remodeled, and our production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ really raised the bar of professional quality for future shows.”

While the students remain grateful for the budget increase, many theater students worry about the limited casting opportunities. Certain acting roles and production work count as credit toward the theatre major.

“Every theater major is required to complete a senior project, an independent project examining and documenting a character we’ve been cast as, a show we’ve stage managed, or a crew position we’ve taken,” Lewis said. “With limited casting opportunities, this left us seniors terrified of our options.”

Carly Maalouf, communications assistant for the department of theatre and dance, views the extra show as an opportunity for seniors like Lewis.

“It’s a really positive thing for majors when there are more shows,” Maalouf said. “The less shows, the less opportunities. We have to do practicums. There would not have been as many opportunities with two [shows].”

Maalouf said that before the budget cuts, the department would produce one musical and three plays. After the budget cuts, they planned to only do one musical and one play.

However, with the additional funding, they were able to add another play back into their season.

The department plans to produce “Seascape” for its third show, which gives students the opportunity for four additional roles.  The other two productions include Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“The students are thrilled to have the opportunity to do three shows,” said Julie Hodge, associate professor of theatre. “We always have a highly active student population in productions, and if we could afford to do a fourth production as we have in years past, they would be even happier.”