UIS Theatre expands course selection, looks to offer major in fall

John Kurecki, Features Reporter

The UIS Theatre Department has created a new class focusing on stage combat and hopes to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre for the fall 2016 semester.

Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson, associate professor and director of the UIS Theatre, explained the course’s applications, stating, “Many plays and musicals have scenes which include violence between characters. Stage combat classes, usually beginning with unarmed stage combat, train actors how to work safely with one another while also creating convincing scene work, which involves violence on stage.”

The course is not just about the violence itself, but also the safety of everyone involved.

“Audiences want to witness convincing fights on stage, yet audiences do not want to be worried that an actor may have really gotten hurt during the course of a scene,” Thibodeaux-Thompson explained.

The course description proclaims to, “[Introduce] students to the principles of stage combat, with safety being the priority and convincing conflicts being the goal.”

The outline adds that, “Students begin the semester studying unarmed stage combat in a variety of scene work and exercises. Depending on the proficiency of the class, by the end of the semester, students may be introduced to working with appropriate stage weapons such as the broadsword, rapier, and dagger.”

This is the first semester in which a stage combat course is offered, and it is a manifestation of the UIS Theatre program’s expansion in recent years.

“The UIS Theatre Program continues to grow,” said Thibodeaux-Thompson. “In addition to the productions we launch every year, and the theatre minor we currently offer, in the fall of 2016, UIS Theatre will begin offering a B.A. in Theatre, pending final approvals by the university and the state.”

Currently the UIS website only advertises a minor in theatre, which reads, “The successful student completing a Theatre minor will learn theoretical and practical skills, both on and off stage. The UIS Theatre Minor Program focuses on the process of various theatre practitioners, while also investigating the theatre’s history and its current role in society.”

The minor requires four courses, including Theatre Practicum, and seven elective hours. UIS describes Theatre Practicum, the only required 400-level course, saying, “Students serve as either actors or technical support for the current UIS theatre production. Students are responsible for attending all scheduled rehearsals, performances and ‘strike.’”

This semester, the UIS Theatre will be performing “Distracted” by Lisa Loomer, which premiered in March of 2007.

Dramatists Play Service, Inc. describes the play as “A hilarious, provocative, and poignant look at a modern family and an epidemic dilemma: Are we so tuned into our 24/7 info-rich world that we’ve tuned out what really matters?”

The show premieres Friday, April 22 and continues with five more performances through April 30.