New Sunderland Studio Theatre
Drury theatre students have a new space in which to perform and immerse themselves in their craft, thanks to a significant grant award from the Kansas City-based Sunderland Foundation.
Drury received a $150,000 grant from the Sunderland Foundation in 2017 to build an all-new “black box” studio theatre in O’Bannon Hall, which is part of the Mabee Performing Arts Center.
The grant made it possible to convert a former classroom into a modern, two-story studio theatre, a significant improvement over the former studio theatre space in Springfield Hall. It features better lighting and sound capabilities, a permanent control booth on the second floor, and easier access for the audience. The space is also larger, with seating for 60 to 100 people, depending on the configuration.
Drury’s Theatre Department moved into the Mabee Center last year in order to provide greater connections with the Music Department. The Sunderland Studio Theatre is a key aspect of those changes, along with a larger design lab for students and additional prop storage. The new Sunderland Studio Theatre opened to the public for the first time with a production of The Fantasticks in February. “It just provides us with a lot of versatility with the shows we’re able to do and the design choices we make,” says Payton Jackson, a junior theatre major and stage manager for The Fantasticks. “It’s something really cool that not a lot of universities have.”
The Sunderland Studio Theatre was designed by late theatre professor Dr. Robin Schraft, who passed away after a battle with cancer last fall. Schraft had been a faculty member at Drury for 27 years.
“The new studio is a great showcase for our students’ talents, and it allows them to gain hands-on experience working in these kinds of flexible performance spaces,” says Dr. Mick Sokol, professor of theatre. “We’re grateful to the Sunderland Foundation for the gift; and I think everyone in our department would agree that Dr. Schraft would have been really proud to see what our students are doing with the studio right now.”
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Dr. Cloyd Visits Hem Sheela Sister School
In December 2017, Hem Sheela Model School (HSMS), Durgapur celebrated its 22nd Founders Day. Dr. Timothy Cloyd and John Beuerlein, Emeritus Trustee of Drury University, were the plenary speakers. Other guests were Wendy Cloyd, Grant Grimes, Thomas Carmody, Drury Trustee William Bill David Vaughan; Drury faculty, Dr. Mark Wood and Dr. Kristofor Wiley; and Dr. Teresa Harris from James Madison University.
During his visit, Dr. Cloyd met with the teachers of HSMS and exchanged views on effective teaching pedagogy. Dr. Cloyd stressed strengthening the relationship between Drury and Hem Sheela Model School, facilitating common research projects between the two institutions, developing exchange programs for Hem Sheela students, teachers and administrators, and enhancing skills at each level.
Dr. Cloyd also visited the primary school (K- 4) at Dhandabag. Additionally, two new plaques were dedicated in the Protima Child and Women Development Center by Dr. and Mrs. Cloyd in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Panchanan Kumar, parents of Dr. Protima K. Roy. The school is for first-generation learners who come from the poorest segments of India’s disadvantaged tribal communities.
Since its inception in 2010, the center has helped tribal women to become financially independent. Around 200 women of the tribal background from Khatguria and its neighboring villages are expected to benefit from the project in the future.
In keeping with the changes and with an aim to develop Khatguria into a model village, another project was suggested by Dr. Cloyd and other attendees to provide the village with clean, potable water.
The guests also visited classrooms at the tribal school, primary school, and the main campus of HSMS. The teachers were highly motivated by their observations and suggestions. The guests participated enthusiastically in all the school activities during their stay at HSMS. At the trustee meeting, Dr. Cloyd was officially inducted as trustee of the Hemchandra Sheelabati Memorial Educational Trust.
Internationally Renowned Scholar Visits Drury
Internationally recognized New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine was the featured speaker in a series of events at Drury in early April. Levine is a leading figure in Jewish-Christian interfaith relations. Through a career of extensive scholarship and public speaking, she has sought to “clear up 2,000 years’ worth of misconceptions between Jews and Christians,” as Moment magazine put it in a 2013 profile story.
Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at the Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville. She is also the author of several books, including Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi; The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus; and most recently, with Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, the children’s book Who Counts? 100 Sheep, 10 Coins and 2 Sons. She is also the co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Levine received her Ph.D. from Duke University and has been awarded several honorary doctorates, including one from Drury.
“Her primary message is that Christians need to understand that Jesus was a Jew,” says Drury Chaplain, Dr. Peter Browning. “Pastors, in particular, need to be careful in the way that they represent Jews in the gospel accounts. Without a proper historical understanding, Christians can reinforce images of Jews which are unfair, demeaning and, especially after the Holocaust, dangerous.”
Topics of Her Visit Included:
- “Of Pearls and Prodigals: Hearing Jesus’ Parables as Jewish Stories”
- “Understanding Jesus Means Understanding Judaism”
- “My Experience Teaching in Prison”
Drury Hosts IMAGINE Conference
Applying for and attending college can be an intimidating experience for first-time college students. The confusion is only heightened for those who are the first in their family to go to college. Drury University’s first IMAGINE Conference aimed to clear up confusion and dispel fears that first-generation students may have about college.
“This conference was unique in that it presented to both current and potential first-generation university students an array of hints, tips, training and information to help them navigate education, financial aid, career exploration and more at the university level,” says Dr. Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols, professor of Spanish and IMAGINE Conference coordinator.
Nichols also serves as project director of Drury’s SOMOS program, which provides financial aid and support to the family members of migrant or seasonal agricultural workers. She sees a clear need for a conference for first-generation college students in southwest Missouri.
“First-generation college students are hardworking, driven and motivated, but often share a unique set of obstacles and challenges when it comes to applying for and succeeding at the university level,” says Nichols. “Rules, customs and expectations that seem normal to families that have a history of university attendance can be bewildering and mysterious for the first family member to ever go to college. Many first-generation students not only need to know how to apply to college, but also how to ‘do’ college successfully.”