NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The School of Theatre and Dance at Stephen F. Austin State University has an exciting production schedule for the 2022-23 academic year that will, in part, celebrate the addition of SFA’s dance program to the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts.
Cleo House Jr., director of the School of Theatre and Dance, and Heather Samuelson, associate professor of dance, are looking forward to the opportunities this new collaboration can provide for students, as well as for others who may benefit.
“Probably not since I accepted my job at SFA have I been this optimistic and hopeful about what’s to come,” House said. “The new School of Theatre and Dance and its faculty and staff are open to using this momentum to re-evaluate why and how we do what we do.
“It’s a great time to look at our traditions and embrace what is working for us,” he added, “but we also feel empowered to make changes or experiment in ways that seek to make the most of this moment for our students and the community.”
The dance program had previously been a part of the Department of Kinesiology in the James I. Perkins College of Education.
“The dance program is thrilled to become a part of the ECFA,” Samuelson said. “Our students will have the opportunity to collaborate and grow as artists in a setting that enhances their education and transforms their lives. We look forward to the future of dance at SFA and the possibilities that lie ahead.”
To accommodate growing fine arts programs at SFA, construction and expansion continues on the Griffith Fine Arts Building, bringing with it new theaters and dance studios, along with filmmaking and sound recording technology facilities, in addition to modern new classrooms, laboratories and offices.
House described the slate of productions and concerts for the coming year as “modern, inclusive and exciting,” offering a preview of what’s to come in future seasons.
“We have made a conscious effort to make sure that dance and theatre productions do not overlap,” he said. “We have scheduled them in such a way you can see a theatre production one week and a dance concert in the next. In collaboration with our publicity team we have created some outstanding brochures that represent how natural this partnership is. Dance and theatre coming together is quite common at many colleges and universities across the nation. With the addition of the new space/expansion in Griffith Fine Arts Building, the synergy between all artists in that space should be palpable.”
Mainstage shows at SFA have an expanded schedule to offer audience options in weekend matinees for theatre-goers. Mainstage performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All plays are in Kennedy Auditorium on the SFA campus.
This season’s Mainstage shows include “The Moors” by Jen Silverman, Sept. 29 through Oct. 2; “Lord of the Flies” by Nigel Williams, Nov. 3 through 6; “Everybody” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Feb. 23 through 26; and “[title of show]” by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, April 20 through 23. Student-directed one-act and full-length plays are also offered. Descriptions of plays are available at theatre.sfasu.edu/onstage.
Danceworks Concerts are scheduled for Nov. 10 through 12 for the fall show, and April 13 through 15 for the spring show. The Repertory Dance Company Faculty Concert is Feb. 16 through 18. Dance concerts are at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 3 p.m. Saturday. All dance performances are in HPE Complex, Room 201.
Estimated completion of the Griffith Fine Arts Building’s renovation and expansion is sometime in mid 2023. House said the new and expanded facilities will be “a game changer” for fine arts students, faculty/staff and the community.
“When I toured the space, I toggled between tears of joy and goose bumps of excitement,” House said. “The state-of-the-art studios and performance spaces, dedicated studios for the various areas of specialty in design, and professional level spaces will make the School of Theatre and Dance an aspirational place to be.”
He said the building itself will be “a melting pot of artists” from all fine arts areas – sound recording technology, film, dance, theatre, musical theatre.
“The thought of these creative minds rubbing elbows, hanging out in the ‘tree house’ student hub and building relationships truly fills me with glee,” House said “This is where lasting artistic friendships and partnerships will be made. A future Oscar, Tony or Grammy Award winner is going to come out of fine arts because this space is setting them up for that kind of success. The future of fine arts at SFA, but dance and theatre in particular, is truly bright.”
For ticketing information or to purchase tickets for theatre and dance performances, call the Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS, or visit boxoffice.sfasu.edu. Ticket sales open Sept. 1.