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Workshops 2007 - The Role of Theatre in the Christian Academy

Shaping Communities:
The Role of Theatre in the Christian Academy

Directed by Debra L. Freeberg, John Steven Paul and Michael Stauffer

July 9-14, 2007


Funds provided by the Valparaiso Project for the Education and
Formation of People in Faith

Seminar Description
How might Christian virtues and practices inform theatre? This weeklong workshop for thirty or more theatre professors will address this question. Each participant will develop an individual project that aims to practice, via theatre, one of the cardinal virtuous practices of Christian faith and life, such as hospitality, discernment, witness, forgiveness, and reconciliation. During the course of the workshop we will ask ourselves whether we can:

  • welcome diverse audiences with hospitality that leads to illuminating program notes and comfortable accommodations for those who need them?
  • ensure that our play choices and assignments of roles arise from conscientious discernment?
  • give witness, both critical and appreciative, to the range of theatrical expressions and outlooks we have experienced?
  • seek and grant forgiveness when theatrical words and actions have caused hurt?
  • commit our theatres to work for reconciliation in a torn-up world?

Applications are welcome from professors of theatre in church-related colleges and universities and from Christian theatre professionals.

About the Directors
Debra Freeberg, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences, (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh) is a former member of the Governing Board of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education and a member of the Dramatists Guild. She has lectured and conducted workshops on communication, leadership, and theatre across the U.S. and Scandinavia. Professor Freeberg has directed over 30 plays and musicals; favorite productions include The Ghost Sonata, My Dearest Sister, A Doll House, She Stoops to Conquer, A Dream Play, 1940s Radio Hour, Joan of Lorraine, Peer Gynt, and Tiger at the Gates, including a staging of Mendelssohn's Elijah for the Calvin's Oratorio Society . Her plays for children — Good Boogie, Calvin Theatre Company produced And the Book Ran Away with the Spoon, and My Dearest Sister—and her liturgical dramas have been produced in the U.S. and Canada. Her research includes Scandinavian theatre, children's theatre, playwriting, and directing. In 2004, Freeberg led the CCCU faculty development workshop in theatre with colleagues from Wheaton, Trinity and Trinity Western University. Her current projects include a book about the role of theatre in the Christian academy and a co-authored volume on the practice and pedagogy in Christian higher education.

John Steven Paul, is Professor of Theatre and the Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts at Valparaiso University. He chaired the Department of Theatre from 1991-2006 and taught dramatic literature, play directing, and playwriting and directed plays for the University Theatre. He is a graduate of Valparaiso University and received the Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the director of Soul Purpose, the liturgical drama troupe of the Valparaiso University Theatre, and artistic director of the Young Actors Shakespeare Workshop.  His writing has appeared in The Cresset, The Christian Century, the Chicago Tribune, Liberal Education and ARTS. His essay “I Love to Tell the Story: the teaching of theatre at a church-related college” was published as a chapter in Teaching As an Act of Faith: Theory and Practice in Church-Related Higher Education (Fordham University Press, 2002).  In 1999, Professor Paul was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award by the Valparaiso University Alumni Association.

Michael Stauffer, Co-Director of Theater, has been teaching theater at Wheaton College for over 25 years. During that time he has also been a freelance designer in the Chicago area, including extensive design work at Willow Creek Community Church. A triple threat designer, Michael also enjoys directing which he does every year as part of the season for the Arena Theatre at Wheaton College. Living in Chicago gives him the opportunity to see some of the best theater in the country on a regular basis. This, coupled with frequent study trips to Europe with his students, has helped Michael develop a keen eye for a physical and visual approach to the theater experience. This continues to inform his teaching, directing and design work.

Seminars & Workshops 2007

For further information contact:
Seminars in Christian Scholarship
Calvin College
1855 Knollcrest Circle SE
Grand Rapids MI 49546-4402
fax 616.526.6682