Ron Himes to help students in theatrical production

Travis Moody, Staff Reporter

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A group of students will be performing “Devised Theatre Programs,” covering themes of social justice with the help of Ron Himes, director and founder of the Saint Louis Black Repertory.

Beginning on Monday of this week, Himes began helping several students compose their own pieces, which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m Sunday in The Black Box Theatre of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

C.C. Wharram, director of the Center for the Humanities, said Kevin Doolen, chair of the theater arts department, played a major role in getting Himes to Eastern.

“I know that Himes and Doolen used to work together several years ago,” Wharram said.

Recently, Himes received the Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award at the National Black Theatre Festival, and Doolen had called to congratulate him.

Wharram said they began to discuss many contemporary issues, such as the riots that took place in Charlottesville, N.C. in early August.

“I believe that’s part of where the idea for having a social justice-themed performance came from,” Wharram said. “Mr. Himes was doing some work in southern Indiana and agreed to come to campus before he went all the way back to St. Louis.”

While audience members do not need tickets to attend, Wharram suggests people arrive early to get a seat.

“The Black Box can only hold around 120 people, and I expect this to be, and hope it will be, a very popular event,” Wharram said.

Wharram said he was impressed with how timely these performances are, stating it can be difficult.

“It’s often associated with theater that it takes a while to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s,” Wharram said. “Compared to many other theater pieces when they are performed, this one is extremely timely, and the issues it talks about regarding social justice are still prevalent today.”

Conor Baltz, the assistant technical director in Doudna, described himself as the liaison between Doudna and the theater department.

“I’ve seen the first rehearsal and a little bit of the next two,” Baltz said. “Students will be performing monologues and music that they’ve created.”

Baltz said the show behaves as a sort-of narrative rather than a bunch of different, random acts and performances.

Following the show, there will be a discussion with the audience, which will play an integral part for the performance as a whole.

Wharram said he believes the discussion will provide a great way to break down the barrier between the audience and the stage.

“The idea of theater is for the audience to be active in the performance, but they often feel as if they need to be passive,” Wharram said. “This will provide a way to get them involved in the performance they just saw and become a part of the experience.”

Baltz said as a college campus, there are a lot of different views floating around, and this is a way to bring everyone together.

“As a student I think it’s really cool that Eastern holds events like this,” Baltz said.

Travis Moody can be reached at 518-2812 or at [email protected].