Monday, March 2, 2015

Go See a Play at the Local Playhouse

My second major essay for English Composition I was the Community Observation paper.  which was turned in on Halloween of 2014.  In this one, we had to go around the local community of Tahlequah, OK and find something to write about.  I chose the NSU Theatre Company, which is the college's theatrical company which has a Playhouse just off campus in downtown Tahlequah.

Even if you are not living in that area, I still suggest you go check out your local theatrical company, they work very hard to put on a great show, and many times raise money for local charities.

I ended up getting a 97 on this one.  I had a few run on sentences.  I actually went back and edited this one a bit after her comments, because I gave it to the NSUTC's coordinator, Dr. Robyn Pursley, whom I interviewed for the paper.  My teacher's comment at the end was, "Good work!  You present engaging material supported with evidence."

ENGL 1113
31 October 2014

Go See a Play at the NSU Playhouse

Watching a play, now-a-days, is not something high up on people’s agendas.  Many even joke about the idea, mainly because quality plays are not only hard to come by, but extremely rare, seemingly only found in ‘elite’ places, such as New York City.  When one factors in the other stigmas about plays, like the idea being outdated in this modern world of cinema and the idea that you are trapped in a room with ‘crazy people’ pretending to be someone else, they tend to become far more daunting.  What if, though, someone were to assert that seeing a quality play in Tahlequah is not only easy, but well worth someone’s time?
The fact is, the term ‘theatre’ (notice the ‘re’) shouldn’t be such a daunting thing.  Some people get acclimatized to plays when they are young, going to shows for school, but the rest of us, going to see a play is a very, very rare thing.  Luckily, here at NSU, there is a place to remedy that situation.  The NSU Playhouse, run by the NSU Theatre Company (NSUTC), is a dedicated space for plays during the academic year and is easily accessible by the community of Tahlequah at large.
The building that is now the NSU Playhouse was acquired by NSU in the early 80s.  It was once a car garage, and early on in its life as the Playhouse it was used exclusively by the theatre program (Pursley).  Having a dedicated space for plays produced by the college allows the NSUTC to really specialize in the theatrical experience, not only from a teaching and learning perspective, but from an audience at large perspective.
The NSUTC presents two fall shows, two spring shows, and a full summer run of the River City Players, a Branson-style show that had their first season in 1983 (NSU Summer Show History).  Outside of the Playhouse, the NSUTC also produces the annual Lights On Seminary Hall event around Christmas.  The NSUTC is also a great source for creative input and collaborates with many campus activities like the Emerald Ball and Miss NSU Pageant.  Honestly, they are a resource for the entire campus and community when it comes to theatrical information (Pursley).
The NSUTC is based out of the Playhouse itself which houses a thrust stage space that seats approximately one hundred seventy one people, a computer/design lab, and a shop/classroom facility.  The Playhouse is a full functioning theatre complex (Facilities).  This might sound like fluff, but it honestly means that the NSUTC can focus fully on putting on great plays for the community.
Putting on great plays for the community is by far the best way for students in the theatre program at NSU to get the experience they need to graduate and move into the field they have chosen in life.  Conversely, this means the community of NSU and the community of Tahlequah get easy access to great plays.  When asked what made the current coordinator of the NSUTC, Robyn Pursley, most proud about the NSUTC itself, she responded, “Access to the arts.”  She would go on to elaborate, “Tulsa and Fayetteville are relatively close by, but for many people the idea of attending a show in those towns is intimidating. I think we have a better chance of getting them into our theatre.”
Honestly, Doctor Pursley is more correct than she could state.  Having the facilities and the quality of plays right in the area, seeing an NSUTC show is easy.  One does not have to make a complete day out of ‘going to the theatre,’ as it is right next to campus, or just downtown Tahlequah.
Not only does the Playhouse allow easy access to quality theatrical productions, but they are involved in the community in certain ways.  The NSUTC has a close relationship with the humane society, doing one fundraiser benefit show a year.  Also, the first show of the season, being the first play in the autumn, is called the Annual Chilren’s Theatre Production.  This is an important activity, as it provides access to a live play to regional school students.  These students more than likely would never step foot into a true theatre of this kind or ever see a live show.  Not only is it a great experience for the children, for many of them it is the first time they have ever seen a play (Pursley).
Dr. Robyn Pursley took over the program as coordinator in 2004 and has been instrumental in making the NSUTC as great as it has become.  She was a graduate of the program, finding her passion for the NSUTC so great that she made her way back to give back to the program itself.  In an interview she pointed out that her main objective was the student experience, but part of that experience is the audience experience, which she points out quite a bit in her class.
In another interview, she said that, "Our graduates are regularly hired as designers, stage managers and backstage technicians.”  She goes on, in the interview, to elaborate that the students benefit greatly from the hands on experience, and that backstage jobs are often the stepping stones to acting jobs (Office of Communications & Marketing).
Such attention to detail behind the scenes can only benefit the audience.  Great productions in an easy access venue can only benefit the community.  How can one go to NSU and not see at least one play, when it is so easy to go, especially if you’ve never seen a play?  College is a time for experimentation and fun, everyone should experiment with culture first and foremost.  Culture is what makes communities more vibrant and some say, it brings the soul to life.  Even if you go see something cheesy, you will experience an event that will only happen in that one space, at that one time.  With all the passions of everyone involved, how can that not be an event worth witnessing?

Works Cited

Facilities. n.d. Web. 19 October 2014.
NSU Summer Show History. n.d. Web. 19 October 2014.
Office of Communications & Marketing. Theatre arts program lights up Tahlequah. 23 April 2014. Web. 19 October 2014.
Pursley, Robyn. Interview. Dan Bonser. 13 October 2014. Email Interview.

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