NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU’s Department of Communications has embarked on a fundraising drive for its theater program, and is close to reaching its goal for this semester.
Dr. Tameka Winston, interim chair of the Communications Department, where the theater program is housed, said a goal of $6,000 was set for this semester, and so far $4,500 has been raised. The ultimate goal is $100,000.
“I’m very excited about this theater fundraiser,” she said. “However, after we reach our goal (this semester), we’re going right into the next fundraiser, because we still have a lot of work to do.”
Tennessee State’s theater presents a varied repertoire of theatrical productions featuring TSU students in all aspects of the performance. These productions provide students with basic fundamental skill sets and experiences in acting and theater production. The program, established in 1939 by Dr. Thomas E. Poag, is housed at the Cox/Lewis Theater in the TSU Performing Arts Center.
Winston said the theater program is special because it was in place before anything else in the department.
“The program laid the foundation for the department,” she said. “It was in existence before Mass Communications, or Communication Studies.”
The theater program, however, is struggling because of low enrollment. It currently has about 30 students enrolled. Department officials said funds raised will be used to attract students to the program.
“The low enrollment is in large part because we simply aren’t able to recruit the number of students needed for a vibrant, competitive program,” said Dr. Lawrence James, professor of theater and also theater coordinator.
The department hopes to raise $50,000 next year, and has a two-year strategic plan in place to eventually raise $100,000.
“We want to make sure that long after we’re gone, the theater will be fine,” Winston said.
Despite its small enrollment, department officials said the theater program still turns out great plays and performances, like the play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” which started showing March 29 and continues through April 1 at 7 p.m. in the Cox/Lewis Theater.
TSU freshman Ashley Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the play’s performers. She said she’s glad money is being raised for the theater program.
“There’s so much life in the theater program; so much potential,” said Johnson, adding that she’d like to see the program do musicals. “The funding would definitely help. We’d be able to do so much more.”
James is the director of TSU’s version of the play “For Colored Girls.” He said it’s similar to the original play that was written more than 40 years ago.
While he hopes that young women will be educated and empowered by the play’s message, he said it makes an “important statement in regard to issues related to all women.”
“The play deals with a number of subjects that are very relevant today: love relationships, abandonment, rape, abortion, sisterhood, among other issues,” James said.
Students with IDs can attend the play for free; it’s $10 for non-students.
To find out more about TSU’s theater program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/Communications/.
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