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The Blue & Gray Press | August 16, 2017

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Theater Department Cancels Masters Classes

By ANNE ELDER

Motivated by poor attendance in the first two master classes, students on the theater department mailing list received an e-mail last Wednesday announcing the cancellation of the remaining eight classes.

When asked about the cancellation, theater publicity representative Carly Maalouf said they had no comment on the matter.

The first two classes were held Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 and 27, respectively.  Due to the amount of students in attendance and the future registration numbers, the department decided to cancel the upcoming classes.

“I was very surprised to see they were canceled, considering a lot of fairly distinguished guests had been invited, and many UMW professors who are usually quite busy had planned to teach them,” theater major Cassandra Lewis said.

“I simply hadn’t registered yet because I have a million things to do on any given day, and the classes were scheduled pretty far into the future, so I thought I could wait a while,” Lewis said.

The classes opened for registration beginning on Sept. 18 and were scheduled to occur until mid-November.

“A lot of what I’ve heard is that people didn’t go because of short notice and it being on parent weekend,” sophomore JB Bridgeman said.  “I really think it was the short notice that kept it from getting attendance.”

Another reason that may have impacted student participation was the publicity for the event.

“The e-mail they sent about it was pretty much the only advertisement for it, there were no posters or anything,” Bridgeman said.

Several guests were planned to bring their expertise to the UMW Department of Theatre, including alumni and department professors, as well as a guest professor from the University of Virginia.

The e-mail sent out to students stated, “Canceling the master’s classes avoids embarrassing the department by having significant guest artists arrive on campus to find that none of our majors are interested in what they have to offer.”

However, theater students do not feel there is a lack of interest within the department.

“I was disappointed the idea had been abandoned so quickly, and that the impression was set that the theater majors weren’t interested—which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the case.  Most of the students I know are very interested in theatre and in learning in general,” Lewis said.

The “master classes” were introduced in mid-September, offering one and two-day long workshops.  The workshops focused on all aspects of theater, including speech, music, art, photography, and theater work after college.

Special guest UVA Associate Professor Kate Burkes taught the first class on the vocal aspect of Shakespeare’s work.  UMW graduates Liz Beebe ’04, Barbara Howlin ’03 and Becca Murray ’04 taught the second class.  The class gave students insight into working in the film and television industry.

It giving students insight in working in the film and television industry.  The cancellation announcement came after these two classes had occurred.

Many students thought that despite the lack of attendance, the classes would be beneficial to try again.

“I hope they do give us another opportunity,” Bridgeman said. “We’re so lucky as a department to get chances like this.”

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