"Our first goal is to establish two scholarship funds: A need-based theater scholarship, and a talent-based theater scholarship," said Michael Ewing, instructor of Communication Studies and Theater Arts and also the director of last week's production of “Our Town. “
With times changing at DSU, Ewing hopes to revamp the theater program to match what Delta State already has to offer including revising the curriculum.
Currently the theater program has two professors, Ewing and Dr. Noah Lelek, and three theater majors.
Ewing and Lelek hope to look at social consciousness theater and focus on acting and performance while they teach the students how to create something original.
"We want to be aware of our limitations and strengths," said Ewing.
While they do not have constant access to the stage in Jobe, the theater students are able to use it often, and Ewing sees this as a great advantage and opportunity.
The current focus of the program is to raise funds for the two scholarships and Ewing believes that no bit of assistance is too modest.
"This is a special moment for theater at Delta State University. A moment that will directly impact the lives of our future theater majors, and will impact the lives of the entire university and Cleveland community as we bring to life the stories of the myriad folks who comprise the Mississippi Delta," said Ewing.
What many don't know if that the theater has no line item budget for productions.
"We are blessed with modest assistance from the Division of Languages and Literature but honestly, this barely covers the cost of licensing fees and scripts for each production," said Ewing.
The costumes come from the actors' closets, thrift stores, and the imaginations of the costume designers and the sets are built from whatever wood was left over when the last theater director was there.
"There has been a sharp decline in theater majors, and our resources have nearly evaporated," Ewing added.
With donations being made the moment the program declared the need, Ewing is amazed at the support the program is seeing.
On the evening of the last performance of Our Town, the actors even pulled together money to make a donation, which they presented to Ewing on closing night.
Dr. Henry Outlaw, a former Delta State professor, along with the Alumni Foundation gave a donation as well and Dr. James Robinson, a history professor is matching donations.
"It's wonderful," Ewing said.
With Delta State in a new transition, Ewing hopes to continue to see the program grow and these two scholarships put into place along with a revised curriculum, inspiring young actors to come be a part of the magic created on stage.
The Bill LaForge administration has given us new life," said Ewing, "while the university is limited financially, our imagination is not. And we imagine that a community willing to step up and fund a wonderful week of events for our remarkable new president, is the type of community that also wants to see our students flourish."
For more information on the Delta Players or to make a donation to the program, visit www.deltastate.edu.