Students fill in the studio theater at Stocker center to learn the craft of acting.

Students fill in the studio theater at Stocker center to learn the craft of acting.

Brenna Shippy
Staff Writer

Theatre has become increasingly popular with LCCC students.  Theatre deals with stage fright, demands discipline, accepts faults, and influences sympathy through the roles portrayed. Jeremy Benjamin, director of  the theatre department at LCCC, mentions that enrollment has risen from spring semester 2013 by almost 11% to this semester. But one has to wonder why now?

 “I think there are several factors for the increase in enrollment.  Arts and Humanities Dean Robert Beckstrom informed me that recently student enrollment in Music Appreciation courses has dropped. Meanwhile, enrollment in Religion courses has increased,” said Benjamin. “Student interest has fluctuated in the Arts and Humanities areas.This is a reversal from several years ago when we had a difficult time getting students to take the Religion courses and the Music Appreciation courses were full.  The same may be said about Theatre courses.  Student interest fluctuates.  We are currently seeing a lot of student interest.”

 Another factor is the program itself. Benjamin is focused on creating an open and welcoming environment for both students and community. He believes strongly in the team of professionals he’s assembled over the past few years. The theatre department has faculty such as Costume Shop Supervisor Diane Papp, adjunct professor/stage director Dave Cotton, scene shop supervisor/scenic artist Scott Knowles and stage director Terence Cranendonk.

 Dave Cotton comments on his larger group of acting students, “I love all the energy and input.” But with energy comes expected challenges. In this case, performance time is a challenge as well as keeping everyone involved. Cotton suspects it isn’t just popularity driving the students into joining theatre, “People work on very specific career tracks and they might realize our community college has very active theatre that they can have fun with and participate in.” Cotton hopes the theatre program will continue its forward growth into the near future.

 Devon Miller, an LCCC student in THTR 181 Techniques of Acting, also majoring in theatre, talks about his experience with the program. “I fell in love with theatre my sophomore year of high school. I have wanted to pursue it ever since,” said Miller.  “Dave is a very good teacher. He understands the craft and is a huge help in understanding the needs of his students.”

 Shayne Knepper, another student majoring in theatre, is in THTR 182, Advanced Techniques of Acting. He speaks fondly of the program and members, and how he enjoys being put in a position to go outside of his “comfort zone”.

 Many people who realize that theatre is hard work, find they are willing to put in the effort. As a consequence they find the satisfaction of becoming part of a larger, caring community.

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