Staff Editorial

The Lawrence Department of Theatre Arts offers a limited but heartfelt number of productions each year.
But the department sets high expectations in its University Catalog description, which claims to meet the desires of two groups of students: those majoring in theatre arts, and those who “see theatre as a rewarding extracurricular activity.”
According to the catalog, “To meet the expectations of the second group, the department produces a wide variety of plays and musicals and sponsors a theatre club that actively participates in visits to some of the professional theatre companies in the area.”
The mention of this elusive theater club notwithstanding, the department’s claim to offer a wide variety of plays and musicals seems a bit of an exaggeration.
Exactly one play is produced each term. This term, the advertisements for “Our Country’s Good” auditions went up the day before the auditions were scheduled, despite requiring two prepared monologues.
Of course, a sufficient number of students auditioned, most likely because they knew about the auditions beforehand, and these in-the-know students were probably theatre arts majors. As the play casts just eleven roles, the department had no need of a large turnout, anyway.
Last term’s play, “Finding the Laughter (again),” was not really a play at all, but, according to LU News Services, an “off-shoot of an improvisational acting class taught last fall by visiting instructor Bo Johnson.”
Again, this production was something only theatre arts majors would have known about, and offered, again, just eleven roles.
“Language of Angels,” the first play this year, held auditions in the wee days of the term, just as students got back from summer vacation. The play offered eight roles.
A full-scale musical theater production is offered every other year, and this year is not one of the lucky ones. “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a student-run production, is one of the smallest musical theatre productions around, with just six roles.
Though the department is very supportive of student-created productions, these can hardly be counted as offerings of the department itself. Often, these tiny productions do not hold auditions, as they are put together by the actors themselves.
Like it or not, the message the theatre arts department is sending is that they are an exclusive department in which even theatre arts majors can have a difficult time obtaining parts, especially in full plays.