As the week-long arts celebration closes with the annual Pops Concert on March 27, an appreciation and emphasis on the arts continues in several classes, events and groups throughout campus. But with just 32 students studying theatre and 100 music and worship students, campus productions rely on non-majors to round out the performance groups.
The theatre faculty have the opportunity to work with students in their major and students in other majors who have an interest in theatre.
Theatre majors choose from two concentrations – performance and design. No matter which a student chooses, the program gives students training in both areas.
This, said Rebecca Baker, associate professor of theatre, is designed not only to give students skills in both areas but to increase their under-standing and appreciation for those in the different roles in theatre.
“That’s something we train our students to understand, that you may be in on the acting side or in the cast, but we could not do it without all these people who work on our crews,” she said. “It helps to give that spectrum of skills, it makes you more marketable, to respect and be able to speak knowledgeably to people on the other side, on stage or backstage.”
These skills, combined with a good work ethic, opens doors to a variety of options, Baker said. Whether through missions work or connecting with others involved in theatre, she said, students can break the typically negative stereotype many have of Christians.
“Overall, we want to do good work. Period. That’s what opens the doors in the community for us. But balancing that, constantly, is, how do we do good work and honor God? And do the work for Him as a reflection of his creativity,” she said. “One thing we encourage in (our students) is while we keep the feeling of going for good work, we have to keep the feeling of kindness, camaraderie, respect and family-building among all of us.”
In addition to preparing its theatre students for future careers, Baker said, the department also works to promote theatre to others on campus and in the community. Cedarville draws hundreds of guests every season and has received recognition and several awards for its plays.
But, Baker said, none of this would be possible without the collaboration and help of many non-theatre majors. Any student may audition for plays, and many roles have gone to non-majors, Baker said.
As a result, she said, the productions tend to have an open atmosphere, and the department lacks the snobbishness that often comes with theatre groups.
“It does a wonderful job of building friendships and keeping the ‘clique’ feel out of theatre, because we have friendships with people in lots of other majors,” she said. “We work with them, we have them in our classes. We have a lot of collaboration. It’s great to be connected on campus.”
This campus-wide involvement reflects the prevalence and integration of the arts on campus, Baker said.
“I hope we can keep integrating into our campus life as a whole, so that it isn’t just special things we go to – just the play, just the concert, just the art exhibit,” she said. “That we are really seeing the value in the work that these can contribute to campus life.”
Theatre especially, she said, has the unique ability to allow its audience and participants to understand and relate to other people and their issues.
“I think the power of storytelling is huge. When you think about wanting to understand and relate to people, that’s a real value of theatre,” she said. “I think one of the great things about theatre is it helps us to understand the people around us, not just in the good circumstances of life, but in the hard ones. And it helps us to relate to them.”
The effects of theatre stay with the audience, Baker said, and let them view human issues from the outside.
“That’s what theatre does,” she said. “We deal with issues of life, we deal with what it’s like to be part of family, when we are at the bottom of the circumstances. It says something for what (theatre) does.”
Art is about humanity, she said, and she hopes that these messages can continue to be spread over campus through theatre and other art.
“Just to continue to be seen as part of campus life as a whole,” she said. “And I think that’s reflective of our culture, because we’re becoming an increasingly image-oriented culture. We have things on all the time. We’re no longer in the stage where we think of a movie as only something we do on the weekend. We know these things, we talk about them, it’s just part of our lives. So, I’d like for our art to be something that’s just a part of campus life.”
Students in the music and worship department are taught how to use their musical abilities in several ways, including music education, music theory and leading worship.
As with theatre, the department aims to equip its students to use their skills for being witnesses to unbelievers, said Mike DiCuirci, senior professor of music.
“Certainly we would hope they leave with a competency and an excellence in their performance and to understand that their gifts and talents are a stewardship from God,” he said. “That they’re to use their gifts and talents to glorify God and really make an impact. And to use their art as a witness. To really have an impact in society for Christ that would draw people to them. I think its important that they develop musically and spiritually both.”
As part of this goal, DiCuirci said, the department participates in several events to serve the university body and the surrounding community.
“Obviously the culture endorses music, and the Bible has a lot to say about music,” he said. “So we want to present good, solid music with integrity to the college family and the greater community at large in Dayton and Springfield.”
In addition to reaching the community, DiCuirci said, the students in the music and worship department also minister to each other.
“We have a real family environment in our music department,” he said. “The students encourage each other, do things together and I think that’s a wonderful feature. People really encourage each other and build each other up.”
This isn’t an exclusive family, though. DiCuirci said many of the students involved in bands and choirs are non-majors who want to use their talents without declaring a music and worship major.
For some groups, such as the symphonic band, non-major members make up over half of the group.
“Non-music majors who are competent and have a modicum of talent are more than welcome to audition and participate in our ensembles, be they vocal or instrumental,” he said. “In fact, we couldn’t exist without them. We don’t have enough majors to make all the ensembles go.”
For those who are musically talented, DiCuirci said he hopes their involvement with music continues far past school.
“For those who do music well, I hope they continue past university and find a place to use their talents all their life,” he said. “You know, you can’t play basketball till you’re 85, but you can play an instrument till you’re 85.”
This involvement in arts is important, DiCuirci said, not just for those with musical abilities, but for everyone.
“I would hope that here at the university, through exposure to humanities and good music, that they would become life-long appreciators, even if they can’t be (involved). That they would have an appreciation for the arts and their role in the scheme of life,” he said. “God gave music to us as a great gift, not only to praise Him but to find therapy and relaxation and entertainment. It’s a multi-faceted gift and I would hope that nobody would blow it off or ignore it.”
2015-2016 Theatre Season
“Father of the Bride” by Caroline Francke Oct. 1–11, 2015 Directed by Rebecca Baker
“Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand Feb. 4–14, 2016 Directed by Matthew Moore
“Wit” by Margaret Edson March 31–April 10, 2016 Directed by Diane Conrad Merchant
Emily Finlay is a senior journalism major and campus news editor for Cedars. She loves writing, reading, making obscure references in normal conversation and every type of geekery.