Students learn 'show must go on' through innovative class

February 01, 2004


Contributing Writer

Centre College students are finding how much goes into a play before the curtain call. Students in Matthew Hallock's CentreTerm class, "The Company," are rehearsing, building the set, making the costumes and setting the lighting for their February production of David Saar's "The Yellow Boat."

CentreTerm is the College's innovative three-week term in January when students take a single class designed by the faculty member who teaches it.

Because CentreTerm is brief, the 19 students in the class must make use of all available time and manpower. While students are responsible for specific duties such as rehearsal, costumes or set construction, they're not limited by their assignments. When not in rehearsal, cast members pick up a hammer or paintbrush and get to work on other aspects of the production.


Hallock, assistant professor of drama, says everyone has been happy to chip in wherever a need exists.

"A colleague once said, 'There are places in the world where what you do is what it says after your name,'" he explains. "At Centre whatever the group is doing, if there's a place on the rope, you grab a hold and pull. Everyone has embraced that."

Having the class during CentreTerm has its benefits. As with a summerstock production, theater is the only thing the students are focusing upon.

"In the summer, one of the positives is that you don't do anything else," Hallock says. "It's a challenge here to balance the theater needs with other academic needs during the regular terms. During the three-week term, the students only take one course. This becomes the sole thing the students are involved in."

"The Yellow Boat" is about Saar's son, Benjamin, a hemophiliac who contracted HIV through a tainted blood transfusion in the 1980s. Benjamin succumbed to AIDS when he was 8 years old.

"It's a lot of work," says Strother Gaines, a sophomore dramatic arts major from Harlan. "(But) when I read the script I had to do the show.

"It's going to be one of the most touching shows this area has seen in a while."

"The Company" will have sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, including Benjamin's panel, on display in the foyer of the College's Norton Center for the Arts. The class arranged to have sections of the quilt displayed as part of the production. There are 44,000 panels on the quilt, several of which will be at the Norton Center.

Members of the class have also developed "Theater in Education" teams. The teams visit local middle schools prior to the production to work with the students on issues surrounding the play. They also provide teachers with follow-up packets for discussion after the students have seen the show.

"I'm excited about going out to the schools and teaching them about the play, AIDS and how a child can deal with it," says Megan Breier. The senior from Florence designed her own major in communications and culture.

"This has been my best experience in college thus far."

Kacie Jae Powell is a communications fellow at Centre College.|None***

Central Kentucky News Articles