Campus News

Theatre department plays musical chairs

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In a classic game of musical chairs, players shuffle from chair to chair, but there is never quite enough room for everyone. However, the Bethel College Theatre Department is now dealing with just the opposite. During the theatre department major/minor meeting on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, the department officially announced a replacement for retiring department chair Richard Young. Young’s current role will be filled by Don Hunter, current production manager and adjunct faculty member. “I was really excited to be appointed,” said Hunter. “I paid close attention my last two years and it just seemed like a job I would enjoy. I have a gift for administration; it’s one of the things that my spiritual gifts are in, so being in charge of things and running things is something I like to do and get a lot of enjoyment, and I feel fulfilled when I can serve other people.” Hunter has had his sights set on this role since 2005, when he was a junior at Bethel. He and another friend dreamed about someday running the program. ”It took me 10 years,” said Hunter. “But you know, I was ready to wait for a lot longer before having that opportunity, but it presented itself now, so I’m really excited to lead the department, see where we go.” However, unlike in a game of musical chairs, the Theatre Department will face a shortage of full-time faculty for required acting and theatre courses as a result of this decision to hire from inside the department, leaving one too many “chairs” for the remaining faculty to fill when Young retires at the end of the 2014-15 school year. According to Dean of Arts and Sciences Janna McLean, there is a possibility that a new professor will be hired, in the case of department growth. If there are 25 declared theatre majors in the next two years, the department will begin looking to add another professor. Hunter has high hopes for the department. “We would like to be one of the top places you go to a Christian college for theatre,” he said. In the meantime, the empty seat will be filled by a total of four adjunct professors, who will teach the required theatre courses. Wishart Bell and Jill Hostetler are both adjunct professors of voice and Victoria Garrett is also an adjunct professor of music. Also helping the theatre department make do is Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts Deborah Keller. Hunter plans to focus on local recruiting in order to increase the number of theatre majors in the department. He also said the department will meet in a couple of weeks to discuss vision and future departmental goals. The theatre department is not the only department to face faculty changes or additions over the next few months, however. The science department is currently in the process of hiring a new biology professor for the 2015-16 school year. (Read more about the search here.) In addition, the psychology department, which has also faced a shortage of faculty during the present school year, plans to hire an additional professor with experience in social work. In addition to the faculty changes, the theatre department also plans to add another studio show for the 2015-16 school year. Each semester will feature a main stage show and a studio show. The main stage shows will be larger and will draw more audience members, while the studio shows will only have 60-90 seats available each. The Fall 2015 semester will feature the annual 24 Hour Theatre Festival, which is cast, written, directed and performed within 24 hours. The fall semester will also feature “On the Verge” and “A Christmas Carol” and the spring semester will feature two one-acts of Tennessee Williams as well as the musical “Mary Poppins.” The summer show, “Alice in Wonderland,” will be held in May.


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