The Maryville College Theatre Department has been hosting a series of workshops aimed
at improving the technical skills of the college’s theater majors. According to MC associate
professor of theater Dr. Heather McMahon, the workshops are the brainchild of technical
director Jennifer Luck. The workshops take place every Thursday night from 7-10 p.m. and will
continue through March 14.
“When I began working here last fall, we were all thrown right into a pretty intense five-
week production schedule for ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’” Luck said. “I realized pretty
quickly that there were some gaps in the technical knowledge of the students, primarily because
Stagecraft is only offered every other year.”
Luck said that she noticed that many of the students were unfamiliar with the tasks she was
asking them to perform in shop, and came up with the idea of the workshops as a way to help the
students gain a better foundation for other courses, as well as practical application of their new
skills in performances.
“We decided to offer these seminars to give them a better foundation in some of the technical
elements that they wouldn’t necessarily have had experience with in their high schools,” Luck
said. “The goal was to prepare them for the production work they’ll be doing on our spring 2013
production of Lisa Soland’s ‘Waiting.’”
Topics covered by the workshops series included Intro to Design, Stage Management and
Props, Beginning and Advanced Sound and Lighting. These topics are intended to help students
learn the behind-the-scenes work of a theater production, including planning out costumes,
setting up a prop table, managing lighting effects and working with sound systems for the
Staff members of the Clayton Center are leading the workshops for the Arts, including David
Rasnake, Wes Smith and Sunny Tune, in addition to Luck.
McMahon said that she sees the variety of instructors as an advantage.
“I think one aspect of this workshop series that will be particularly beneficial to the students
is that several of the Clayton Center staff are helping to lead the workshops,” McMahon said.
“Any time we can bring in professionals who are actually working in the “real world” of theatre,
it is a better experience for our students.”
Luck also said that, while the workshops were geared towards theatre students, any students
interested are welcome to attend.
“We didn’t publicize the offerings outside of the department, because we assumed, perhaps
incorrectly, that theatre students would be the only ones interested in giving up a Thursday night
to learn about technical theatre.,” Luck said.
McMahon said that more workshops might be offered in the future.
“If we have success with this trial run, I think it would be great to offer these workshops again
in the future,” McMahon said. “Because the department is so small, we only offer Stagecraft
every other year. This workshop series is a great way to fill in that gap in alternate years.”