The Texas Tech School of Theatre and Dance prides itself on fostering a spirit of collaboration not only between its students and faculty, but between disciplines across the university as well. The school is always on the hunt for new opportunities to serve the Lubbock community through its outreach programs that bring theatre to underserved schools and neighborhoods in the area. This year, that mission of community outreach resulted in a new partnership with the TTU Health Sciences Center for the first time.
On March 27th, 37 individuals representing the School of Theatre and Dance banded together as performers and staffers to play an integral role in a simulated disaster training exercise. Such events are common in the world of emergency medicine, yet medical training facilities are often lacking in trained performers and makeup artists to realistically depict the horrors of a natural disaster's aftermath – in this case, the aftermath of a deadly tornado complete with everything from scrapes and bruises to amputations.
Head of Design/Technology, Mallory Prucha has extensive experience working with first responders. Well acquainted with disaster simulation events, she recognized the opportunity to integrate our talented performers and makeup artists into TTUHSC's Disaster Day in a symbiotic relationship that provides theatre students with the experience of working in a medical setting while providing nursing students with stress inoculation necessary to prepare them for extreme environments.
Jamison Driskill, a SoTD graduate student who performed as a standardized patient with a penetration wound and plenty of “blood,” recalls the tension in the air:
"The Tornado Disaster Day event was unlike any acting experience I have ever had - I was impressed at how enthusiastically the TTUHSC students embraced the simulation. They really dove right in and I could sense their adrenaline pumping. With everyone working together we created a pretty disturbing scene and I think we really captured the chaos that would be characteristic of such a disaster. I really hope we never have to deal with a real tornado disaster like that, but it's comforting to know that we are preparing for it."
Events like these present opportunities for theatre students to practice their craft off stage while also providing valuable insight to the power of applied theatre. Aldayr “Peanut” Molina, who served as both a staff member and a standardized patient, reflects on the experience as “a valuable experience that I never thought I would see off a stage. Watching TTUHSC students collaborate with us reinforced my long-term goals in using theatre as an impactful art-form past the doors of a venue.”
Prucha plans to continue facilitating Disaster Day events well into the future in
an ongoing relationship with TTUHSC and other medical facilities across the South
Plains region. With the inaugural “production” in the bag, the School of Theatre and
Dance looks forward to a bright future working in tandem with our medical professionals.