Updated: Mar 5, 2020
By Lyndsey Peace, Editor-in-Chief
The Hardin-Simmons University Department of Theatre will be hosting the Christian University Theatre Festival from March 2 to March 4. Dr. Victoria Spangler, associate professor of theatre, is leading the event and is excited to welcome departments from other universities to gather at HSU.
“CUTF is an event that Hardin-Simmons started about 20 years ago in an effort to bring together departments like ours — small, private, liberal arts, Christian-based schools — and to get together and see what other schools are doing,” Dr. Spangler said.
The event provides an opportunity for universities to present their latest show and for a respondent to provide feedback. Students from HSU will be performing “The Secret Garden.” Amy Paquette, a former adjunct theatre professor at HSU, will serve as the respondent. Paquette has experience as a professional actress in New York City and will also be presenting a keynote address regarding being a Christian artist in a secular world.
“[Paquette] doesn’t necessarily give them a critique, but she responds through professional eyes. She will talk about the things each university did that was very effective,” Dr. Spangler said.
Along with each university having the chance to perform, there will be workshops led by Paquette and Jenny Harbor, who is also a former adjunct theatre professor. This year the workshops will focus on an acting method called the Meisner Technique, which both Paquette and Harbor have studied.
Theatre departments from across the country attend the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival, which is a larger, more competitive festival usually falling at the end of February. What makes the CUTF unique is that it is more close-knit and allows for productive feedback in a relaxed setting.
“The KCATF has a different vibe. It’s slick, it’s cutthroat, it’s just different. And the CUTF is a little bit more laidback, a little friendlier. Nobody is trying to elbow anybody out,” Dr. Spangler said.
The CUTF is mostly an opportunity for different universities to celebrate their passion for theatre. “The [CUTF] is really a celebration of something we all love, which is the arts and specifically theater. Whether the students are technicians, or performers, or in charge of costumes, all of these students in some capacity have a gift that’s been placed on their hearts, and that’s the love of theater,” Dr. Spangler said.
Theatre is important because it gives the audience the chance to reminisce or to learn a lesson or to simply be entertained. “[The HSU Theatre Department] wants to touch people's hearts but we do it to glorify God. People react to each show differently and you don’t know how powerful something is going to be to someone,” Dr. Spangler said.
The CUTF will be an exciting chance for HSU theatre students to connect with others and for theatre students from all universities to embrace the love of theatre during this three-day event.