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M.A. in Theatre Thesis Candidates Produce Staged Reading of a new play at the Leaf Institute

Ben Hamann and Nathan Pittack produced a staged reading of When the Bough Breaks at The Leaf Institute this past week. Playwright Nathan Pittack worked for hundreds of hours writing drafts, while Director Ben Hamann cast and directed the new play. Ben and Nathan are working together in their final year of the M.A. in Theatre program to create new plays and produce existing plays for local audiences.

Ben and Nathan patterned with The Leaf Institute, a new arts foundation exploration the intersections between art, vocation, and faith.

Annual Poetry and Duo-Acting Contest!

Poetry Duo Acting Contest Poster 2019.jpg

Dates

  • Sign-Up Deadline: Friday, February 1

  • Round 1: Monday, March 4 at 5:00 pm — Performance Hall, Acting / G.Fine Arts,              Poetry

  • Semi-Final Round: Thursday, March 28 at 5:00 pm — Performance Hall

  • FINALS: Thursday, April 4 at 5:00 pm — Performance Hall

Acting Regulations

  • Timing: should be between 5-7 minutes, including Introduction

  • Memorized: should be fully memorized

  • Selection:

      • Recommended Playwrights  

        • Contestants wishing to perform a scene not on the recommended list should schedule a meeting with David Schwingle. Contestants should bring a cutting of the proposed play to the meeting.

        • All selections must be approved

        • All selections should cut objectionable or graphic language

    • Minimal props and set pieces are allowed

    • Costumes may be suggested, but should not be fully realized

    • Actors should create any necessary spectacle: external sound and light cues will not be permitted.

    • Find the climax or critical moment in the scene and cut around/up to that moment.

Poetry Regulations

  • Timing: should be between 3-5 minutes, including a brief Introduction

  • Memorized: should be fully memorized

  • Selection:

    • Please choose from the following Poets:  

  • No selections from Shakespearean Plays

  • See Mrs. Nolan for recommended poems.

  • All selections must be approved.

  • Contestants wishing to perform a poem/poet not the recommended list should email a cutting to Mrs. Nolan for approval.

  • Movement is allowed

  • No props, sets, lights, sound cues allowed

Greenville Journal Previews King Lear

Paul’s Picks: Towering Shakespeare and thought-proving fringe

Nov 8, 2018

Ron Pyle is King Lear and Gabby Prairie is Cordelia in BJU's Classic Players production, King Lear, 2018. (Hal Cook)

Ron Pyle is King Lear and Gabby Prairie is Cordelia in BJU's Classic Players production, King Lear, 2018. (Hal Cook)

Paul’s Picks of the Week: The spotlight is on towering Shakespeare and thought-provoking fringe: “King Lear” at Bob Jones University and “World Builders” at Centre Stage.

Why you should see ‘King Lear’

Shakespeare occupies a special place at Bob Jones University. Generations of BJU’s Classic Players have been performing the Bard once or twice a year since the university was founded in 1927. . . .


Read the full preview here, at the Greenville Journal online:


Theatre Gala: Full Address by Christian Shockley

Christian is a teacher who writes. After graduating from BJU in 2013, he studied Christianity & the Arts at King’s College London and the National Gallery. Now he spends his time thinking about the future of education and designing online curriculum for people like Princeton Seminary and Colson Fellows. He also writes and speaks about the intersection of visual art, poetry, and theology.

Please enjoy Christian Shockley’s full address below.


"Wonder on, till truth make all things plain.” The words, as I’m sure you know, come from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” "Wonder on" is an invitation given to the characters on stage. Things need to be sorted out and a play is just the thing to do it.



We’re also asked to follow the curiosity and confusion and hilarity of final act. The expectation—for those on stage and for us—is that what we’ll find is worth our curiosity.

Why else would we be in the theatre if there weren’t something worth finding out—about ourselves, our world, and the way it all coheres? And it’s even better for us if we’re surprised and delighted by what we find.



Humans love to be amazed. We can’t wait to be marveled. How else would you explain such intelligent creatures being so willfully baffled by things like sleight-of-hand magic tricks? How else would you explain our willingness to see a plain, wooden stage as another world to enrapture and entertain us?



This talk, in short, is about how we might chase those marvels—how we might apprentice ourselves to wonder.



Specifically, I want to talk about the importance of attention.



As people in theatre, you know that attention is a great commodity. I’d dare say that some of us are addicted to it. As actors and scenery makers and lighting techs, you know how to direct attention. You know that feeling when you hold it. You certainly know when you’ve lost it.



And you know that, in order to hold attention, the small things matter. Hidden wealths of wonder are discovered by giving our attention to small things. To the chagrin of marketers and media makers, the small things may be worth the bulk of our attention and are worth much more than what most often demands our time.



To break the spell that most media often holds on us, we must realize that our attention is often sought only in terms of the money we can spend. This has tremendous ramifications for art. Television and film and music is created (or at the very least distributed) based on what you can buy after you consume it. Thought is rarely given to how these art forms might shape your soul—for good or ill.



True wonder is set apart from this economy of attention. When wonder is involved, the economics of attention are almost totally inverted. Here’s the truth about wonder and attention: If you’d like to reshape your soul, give your attention to these small things. Attune yourself to the overlooked. That is where wonder is found.



And I do mean the small, material things in this world. I’m not just talking about giving yourself to the abstract idea of “precious little moments.” Don’t let anyone tell you that the material things in this world don’t matter. In her essay “Freedom of Thought,” Marilynne Robinson reminds us: “If the old, untenable dualism [between the physical and the spiritual] is put aside, we are instructed in the endless brilliance of creation.”



In other words, we must take Paul seriously when he wrote that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived . . . in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20, ESV). And God has no throw away wonders. The marginal and insignificant speak his name as clearly as the towering and timeless.



Fortunately, many artists and writers and theologians have shown us precisely how to give our attention to tiny wonders. Oddly, a few of my favorite writers have decided to give attention to insects. This may seem like an unlikely place to find wonder. I’d agree with you. But these writers make a compelling invitation.



Take, for instance, Jonathan Edwards’ fascination with spiders. Before he became a preacher, imagining sinners dangling precariously as if by a spider’s thread, he found himself simply enraptured by spiders—specifically a spider that could fly.



Sounds like a nightmare, right? I promise, it’s less frightening than it seems. This spider doesn’t have wings. This spider spins out a silky thread of web and essentially lassos the wind. Then it soars up to sail on the air like ships do at sea.



The point here isn’t necessarily the spider. But how incredible is it that a spider can fly so gracefully? The point is the attention that Edwards gives to the spider. Edwards didn’t consider himself a lover of insects. In his essay “Of Insects” he lets us know that he thinks spiders are pretty gross. What a marvel, he muses, that God lets such ugly creatures have so enjoyment in the world.



The point is that Jonathan was willing to go out and rattle each holly bush until he found a miracle. And then he followed this spider until he found out how it made its way from a bush to the top of an oak tree.



The point is that he wondered on. He leaned in closer to the world so he’d never miss a single shimmer of beauty. He found that spider webs weren’t the only things that shined. Edwards teaches us that if you search for the smallest beauties in the world, the bigger wonders open to you more beautifully than ever before.



I don’t mean to devalue great wonders. But, if we’d really like to see them as they are, we have to see them as part of a fuller story—as part of a world in which spiders can fly and flies sit on tulips as kings and female praying mantises eat their mates during reproduction. (That last fact is true, by the way. It should put your relationship troubles in perspective.)



Edwards and poets like Thomas Traherne and writers like Annie Dillard give their attention to the things we often pass right over. It isn’t their job to do it. They just follow the wonder, looking for clearer truths. It’s no accident that it is folks like these who lead us to see the greater wonders of invisible worlds.



For Edwards, after following spiders through his youth, he developed a whole theory of beauty that climbs the ladder of creation until love itself becomes an almost tangible force of beauty in the world. This kind of wonder in the seemingly obscure—and the greater coherence it leads us to—is at the very heart of what we believe.



Have you ever wondered why so many people flock to church on Christmas and Easter? No doubt you can explain it away as being induced by cultural guilt. But that reasoning would allow cynicism to rob us of a deeper truth, one that signifies that we are souls in search of wonder. Perhaps churches fill because, like us, people follow the wonder, hoping for truth to make things plain. Marilynne Robinson asks and answers this question in her essay “Wondrous Love”:



“What gives [these stories] their power? They tell us that there is a great love that has intervened in history, making itself known in terms that are startlingly, and inexhaustibly, palpable to us as human beings. They are tales of love, lovingly enacted once, and afterward cherished and retold—by the grace of God, certainly, because they are, after all, the narrative of an obscure life in a minor province. Caesar Augustus was also said to be divine, and there aren’t any songs about him.”



In other words, the insignificant things, when we give them our attention, become windows onto divine mystery.



What could be more ordinary than a mother and child?



What could be more plain than a wooden cross?



What could be more common than bread and wine?



What could be more divine?



I’d like to end with a benediction for your season by the Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh.



Canal Bank Walk



“Leafy with-love banks and the green waters of the canal

Pouring redemption for me, that I do

The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,

Grow with nature again as before I grew.

The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third

Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,

And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word

Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.

O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web

Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,

Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib

To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech

For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven

From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.”



May we all wonder on.




2018 Theatre Arts Gala

This year’s Gala featured a humorous report from Ashley Love (BJU M.A. in Performance Studies) and Christian Shockley (BJU Alumni).

It's Not Too Late: Apply for the M.A. in Theatre Arts at BJU

Looking to take your Theatre training and experience to the next level? Check out the links and information below.

 

Feel free to reach out to David Schwingle or Erin Naler for advice guidance on grad. school work. 

M.A. Theatre Students Present Scholarship

The current cohort of M.A. theatre candidates recently presented their research papers to the faculty and theatre students. In Dr. Erin Naler's theatre history course, the M.A. candidates explored American Theatre and the modernist/anti-modernist divide. Students examined the aesthetic through the lens of an American playwright. 

Contest Winners and Theatre Arts Tiny Awards Announced!

Congratulations to the winning Duo-acting team of Mary and Rebecca Conn!

Congratulations to the winner of the Poetry performance contest, Rebekah Frampton!

Congratulations to all of the finalists!

In a send-up of typical awards shows, Department Head Ron Pyle gave out the annual "Tiny" awards to the graduating seniors and M.A. candidates. Fun was had by most.