Bethel theatre department pairs with Penn high school for summer show
The Bethel College theatre department is opening its doors wider than ever by opening auditions for the summer show, “The Miracle Worker,” to Penn High School students in addition to Bethel staff, faculty and students. The show, which is slated to be directed by Courtney Qualls, tells the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Opening auditions to people outside Bethel is a new move for the department. “We've been interested in doing a joint show with a school, and we'd had a relationship where the Penn director (Qualls) had done one of our shows, so we thought it was a nice opportunity to, then, invite their students and it would be an easier transition,” said Donald Hunter, chair of Bethel’s theatre department. “We also wanted to do a larger show for the summer show, and we needed more actors, so we thought opening it up to a high school would be a good way (to get them.)” Hunter said that he hopes allowing high school students to audition for a college show will put Bethel in their minds as they choose a college. He also hopes that being a part of a college production will give them skills to take back to their own high school theatre programs. “I'd like them to know...a little bit more how to be professional,” said Hunter. “If they come to Bethel, great. If not...it gives them a better opportunity to, whatever college they attend, on how to act more professional than, we'll say, at a high school level. So just some more training opportunities...We’re talking about having an (assistant stage manager) from Penn, so that they can be trained in how to stage manage, and then when they stage manage at Penn, it's a little easier for the teachers. You know, they don't have to spend so much time doing everything.” Of course, two schools working together on one project can be complicated. Hunter described the collaboration as a “logistical puzzle.” “It's taken a lot of logistical talk because…do we have rehearsal here? Do we have rehearsal there? Is it on their calendar? How do auditions work? What time do we have rehearsals,” he said. “So, there's been a very large logistical...puzzle, we'll say.” You may think this is a precedent for more Bethel-Penn interactions on a larger scale, but Hunter says that Bethel and Penn already have some collaboration under their belts. “Bethel and Penn have a nice working relationship with each other, so I feel like this is just helping continue that,” he said. “Yesterday, I was on the phone with the head of their arts department...she has a lot of respect for what we do here and just wants to keep the collaboration up with (us).” Auditions for “The Miracle Worker” are Monday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m.