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Faith-based play competition held

Friday, October 26, 2007  
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By Carly Darrow

The Oklahoma Christian University theater department is giving students a chance to showcase their skills as playwrights. The department is hosting a campus-wide competition to write and produce a 10-minute, faith-based play.

Ten plays will be chosen to be performed in front of an audience on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Judges will evaluate the performance and audience members will also offer input. These two sources will determine the top three plays that will receive rewards.

The entry period is already under way. Any student wishing to enter must submit a script by Nov. 9. 

Phil Reagan, associate professor of speech and theater, said the playwright competition is an event the theater department has always wanted to do. Students, faculty and staff are all invited to write a play. Nicholas Aspey, a junior planning to enter the competition, is encouraging other students to take part as well.

“The more the merrier. I’ll bet there are a good number of people who would surprise themselves with what they can do if they’ll try,” Aspey said. 

Freshman Emmalee Mattern encourages others to get involved, saying this may be the only time they get this sort of an opportunity.

Students can either write, direct or act for this production. Aspey said he is hoping to both act and write for the competition.

“I am fascinated by what motivates people every day, and acting lets me experiment with different possibilities for why people do what they do. Writing, however, is almost the reverse of this, what personalities and situations lead to what potential results,” Aspey said. “I love acting, but I’ve always loved reading stories and trying to get inside the character’s head as well.”

This is the first competition of its kind for any university in Oklahoma City or any Christian university. Organizers see many benefits stemming from this competition.

“It gives students a chance to express themselves and share faith,” Reagan said. “Directors and actors also get to work with new material that has never been performed before which creates excitement.”

Barrett Huddleston, assistant professor of communications and theater, also said many benefits will come from this competition.

“Besides giving our campus community the chance to compose their own creative works, the contest will provide innovative ways to integrate faith and the arts,” Huddleston said.

Many students agree that the competition will prove beneficial. Sophomore Clinton Corley said the competition is a good idea because it allows writers to see their ideas come to life.

“I think this competition is definitely good for students to participate in because it gives them a chance to have their work recognized and brought through to completion,” Aspey said.

Since the competition is faith-based, there must be a Bible used as a prop somewhere in the performance, and the first and last line of dialogue in the play must be a quotation or presentation of a scripture from the Bible.

Reagan said this makes the play a little more challenging but also sparks possible creative ideas. It also insures that the plays are original.

Overall, students seem to like the approach.

“Being a Christian school, we have set standard for ourselves that most establishments don’t have. In my opinion, it sort of sets us above the rest because we are striving to challenge ourselves and achieve moral standards set for us by our beliefs,” Mattern said.

Participants and theater faculty invite those students who do not wish to be directly involved to come to the performances.

Reagan said attendance will give students a chance to see their peers work on stage and will give the audience a chance to see how people are reacting.

“It will be a chance for discussion on what people feel is important in their spiritual lives. It will stir up interest and perhaps a bit of controversy. Theater is a conversation between performers and the audience,” Reagan said. “This gives the audience a chance to participate in something new and fresh and to challenge some ideas.”

These plays will be specifically directed towards the Oklahoma Christian campus audience.

“The competition allows OC Theatre to flex some new creative muscles in addition to forming new artistic relationships with our campus community,” Huddleston said.

Reagan hopes the play competition will reflect diversity of opinions and ideas and, in the future, it could turn into an intercollegiate competition.

“I hope this whole process, although it should be taken seriously, is also enjoyed and taken in good fun,” Corley said.

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