The Department of Theatre Arts is one of two departments in the School of Fine Arts. The Department offers courses in the university general education curriculum in the fine arts. It also offers majors and minors in theatre arts on the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Education degrees. The Department takes a broad approach to the teaching of the discipline understanding that its graduates on either the B.A. or B.S.E. degrees will likely be required to practice all aspects of the art including, but not limited to, acting, directing, design, costuming, make-up, and management. However, in addition to this breadth of knowledge
Our Theatre Arts Department is a growing, active, and Christian program that seeks to provide opportunities that inspire, encourage, and challenge our students to grow in their studies, their art, and their faith in Jesus Christ.
Goals and Objectives
The Department of Theatre Arts seeks to provide students pursuing a degree in theatre arts with both an academic and practical exploration of historical, cultural, and aesthetic context of western theatre.
Students completing a baccalaureate program in theatre arts will:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of theatre history, relevant historical criticism, basic literary theory, and various artistic methods leading theatre to its present form in contemporary society.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of specific practical assignments in the areas of performance, technical theatre production, theatre design, theatre administration and theatre education.
The department offers students the following programs of study:
(a) a major or minor in theatre arts,
(b) a major in theatre arts with a concentration in performance,
(c) a major in theatre arts with a concentration in design and technical theatre, and
(d) a major in theatre arts education with all level teacher certification.
Theatre Arts and our Christian Worldview
Faculty, students and administrators at Christian Institutions such as ours consistently face questions regarding the choice of plays produced by their Departments of Theatre Arts. In our mission statement at East Texas Baptist University, we claim the following: “Our purpose is the development of intellectual inquiry, social consciousness, wellness, skills for a contemporary society, global awareness, and Christian character, for we believe that these endeavors prepare students to accept the obligations and opportunities to serve humanity and the Kingdom of God.” Theatre is an academic discipline that serves this purpose and mission in ways that are directly applicable to students, faculty, audience members, and the community at large.
It is our desire to help our students develop skills needed to succeed in the world of professional and academic theatre. Through the study of and production of a variety of theatrical works we can understand, struggle with, and be challenged by the issues, problems, relationships, and conflicts identified by the playwrights. We delight in the opportunities provided by our discipline to share our understanding, struggles and challenges with all those who attend the productions. It is through our work with this content that we are prepared “to accept the obligations and opportunities to serve humanity and the Kingdom of God.”
Productions of stage plays allow us to deal with specific behaviors and actions that may be offensive or may challenge our understanding of Christian behavior. Each time a play includes the use of subject matter incongruent with our Christian walk (profanity, violence, bigotry, inappropriate use of alcohol and drugs, sexual immorality, etc.), each of us faces questions raised by our Christian values and standards. Then, we all must determine how to respond. The performances often provide no direct explanation of an appropriate Christian response or moral answer. However, these productions always evoke a thoughtful response by those who experience them. This is part of what makes theatre such an effective communicative and educational art form.
Dr. Stan Denman, Professor of Theatre at Baylor University, explains it this way; “Sometimes in a search for deeper and more difficult answers involving mature themes requires that we journey into morally ‘murky waters’ that can be troubling for Christians seeking to transcend a carnal nature and model their behaviors on Jesus’ teachings. It is important for us be honest and aware of our attempts to achieve our ultimate goal of glorifying Christ with our artistry without rationalizing away actions which could harm our own spiritual well-being, that of our audience, or the students who have been entrusted to our guidance.”
Through our classes, workshops, production work, and rehearsals, we have many opportunities to share with our students the depth of our Christian commitment and how that commitment affects all aspects of our academic discipline. However, we realize that our patrons only experience specific productions which become “snapshots” of our work. We want to express to you that our Christian commitment is mature, deep, intellectually rigorous, and that it is in no way compromised by our artistic integrity. At East Texas Baptist University, we speak frequently, openly, and honestly about the integration of our faith and our academic work. Theatre provides an endless stream of conversation and discussion on such matters, and our Christian maturity is greatly enhanced by such discussion.
Faculty and Staff
Traci Ledford, Department Chair and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
M.F.A. (Directing), Baylor University
Teaching Certification - Secondary Theatre Arts, Texas A&M - Commerce
B.F.A. (Directing and Design), Baylor University
Sarah E. Bussard, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
M.F.A. (Design and Production), University of Cincinnati;
B.F.A. (Liberal Studies), Bethel College
Dr. Tom Webster, Dean, School of Fine Arts
Ph.D. Fine Arts (Instrumental Conducting and Literature), Texas Tech University
M.M. (Instrumental Conducting), Texas Christian University
B.M. (Church Music), Howard Payne University
Additional study at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Stacy A. Bone, Facilities Manager/Technical Director
B.A. (Theatre Arts), Bethel College