The Dillard University theater program will officially begin itsseason Oct. 1, marking the program’s 10th season as asubscription-based theater.
Subscription-based theater gives students and the community theopportunity to subscribe and support the full four-play season atDillard at a nominal cost. The Theatre program was established in1936, but became a full four play subscription-based season in1995, making Dillard only the second HBCU in the country to offersuch a service.
Garey Hyatt, theatre manager and instructor of speech andtheatre at Dillard, is proud of the program that he helped develop10 years ago.
“We take pride in the fact that we are one of two HBCUs withfull subscription service,” Hyatt said.
To celebrate such a milestone the University Theatre made thetheme of this season the “Anniversary Season: Ten Years ofTheatrical Excellence.” The plays being presented are “A Raisin inthe Sun,” by Lorraine Hansberry; “The Ties That Bind,” by ReginaTaylor; “The State of Mississippi and the Face of Emmett Till,” and”Spunk: Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston.”
“A Raisin in the Sun” is celebrating its 45th anniversary andjust finished a run on Broadway. Now, Dillard University Theatrestudents get their chance to render their interpretations of thecritically acclaimed play. Auditions were Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 andwere open to Dillard University and the community.
The University Theatre program is excited about the firstplay.
Senior Margaret-Anne Davis said that she can sum up theexcitement of the program.
“We’re going to push ourselves to another level of acting [forthis play],” Davis said.
The other three plays being offered later in the year are alsocelebrating important anniversaries. “The Ties that Bind,” byactress Regina Taylor is in its 10th year of production and dealswith the issues that bind and tear apart the African-Americancommunity. “The State of Mississippi and the Face of Emmett Till”commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Emmett Till, ayoung boy who was brutally murdered and his mother’s crusade forjustice.
Finally, “Spunk: Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston” iscelebrating its 15th year in production. This play is the mix ofthree short stories set in the3 pre-World War II era.
These three plays have never been performed in the New Orleansarea. Dillard has the distinct honor and privilege of premieringthem, an honor which many universities across the country do notreceive
Dillard took many efforts to ensure that this season would beone to remember. One of those efforts was to secureartist-in-residence Andrea Frye, a veteran actor and director, todirect all four plays this season. Frye came to Dillard afterhaving directed “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Oregon ShakespeareFestival, one of the top theatres in the country.
Hyatt acknowledges the importance of Frye’s work for theUniversity Theatre, especially since she is no stranger toDillard.
“Ms. Frye has directed for us before, but having her for theentire year is really special” Hyatt said.
Senior Danielle L. Matthews, a speech communications and theatremajor and president of Alpha Psi Omega National Honorary TheatreOrganization, echoed Hyatt’s sentiment.
“With the addition of resident artists coupled with our facultyand students, this year proves to be a powerful one. All of ourefforts coupled together will put our theatre program back on themap” Matthews said.
The University Theatre program strives to have something toshare with Dillard faculty and students and the community. Juniortheatre major Tameka Smith wants the Dillard community tounderstand that the goal of the University is not to win overpeople to theatre but to offer them a chance to experience it.
“Each play has an emotional tie and a purpose for each Dillardstudent. [We] are not trying to win people over to theatre, but forstudents to have an appreciation for it,” Smith said.
Smith is not the only University Theatre actor to feel that way.Williams also agrees that Dillard University Theatre has somethingfor everyone.
“Dillard University plays cater to each Dillard student. Everypiece will not speak to every person in the same way. We as Theatrestudents seek to make our audiences think” Williams said.
Sophomore theatre major Kyle Jackson is also excited and hopefulfor the upcoming season.
“I feel its going to be great because we have a lot of playsthat reflect the black community in a positive light and are veryfamily oriented,” Jackson said.
In the end, this season promises to be very exciting andemotionally charged. The University Theatre hopes the season willleave a legacy and an impact, and that the faculty, students andcommunity will see it as a gift to them.
“This season is our way of saying thank you to the students,subscribers and everyone who has supported us,” Hyatt said.
Season tickets are available by contacting the UniversityTheatre at the Dillard Box Office at (504) 816-4857.