Samford’s Department of Theatre and Dance is welcoming back patrons to a newly renovated Harrison Theatre this season. Over the summer, Harrison Theatre underwent a significant front of the house renovation that included ADA accessibility, new seating, production platforms and improved safety measures. The audience will be closer to the stage and enjoy the show from the comfort of the brand-new seats. A ribbon cutting is planned for October 1.
The first production is the Emma Taylor Theatre for Youth Series of The Wind in the Willows. “This is a classic story of friendship. A friend is someone you can trust to be there when needed the most. We see this throughout the story and is a valuable lesson even today,” said Laura Byland, professor and director of the theatre for youth program.
The production will be open to the public October 1-3 and school groups are scheduled to attend some weekday matinees. Tickets are available at tickets.samford.edu.
The theatre for youth major attracts students that are interested in being teaching artists. There are 24 students currently enrolled in the major. “I believe students are drawn to this program because they really love children and communities. They are interested in giving back to the community and making a difference in a person’s life in the way of performing, teaching, directing, designing, writing, etc.,” said Byland.
Not only do the students perform and grow at Samford but they also have the opportunity to work in the Birmingham community and beyond. “The theatre for youth students will be engaging in the greater Birmingham area this fall. We are doing a tour for preschools as well as partnering with Red Mountain Theatre to assist in some of their community engagement activities,” said Byland.
Samford's Department of Theatre and Dance produces a wide range of performances each year and students are involved in all aspects of the production from costume and set design to acting and directing.
“We’re particularly proud to be able to bring a full season of diverse experiences to Samford this year,” said Mark Castle, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. “It takes a community to put on a theatre production, and each hour of stage time in this season is the product of thousands of hours of backstage time in rehearsal, editing blocking, choreography and combat, practicing music, building and painting scenery, cutting and sewing costumes, cabling and focusing lights, adjusting audio levels and building props. Every student in our department participates in the creation of the season, and they do it all so that collectively we can come together and share our world in all its complexity.”
The Michael J. and Mary Anne Freeman Theatre and Dance Series will launch with the production of Crumbs from the Table of Joy with guest director Chalethia Williams from Miles College. This production is part of the Diversity Series and supported through a grant by the Alabama Power Foundation and The Daniel Foundation. A Christmas Carol will complete the fall schedule Dec. 2-5 in the Wright Center. The Laramie Project and the annual Dance Concert will take place in the spring along with the Dr. Chandler and Jane Paris Smith Samford Opera Series production of The Magic Flute.