In celebration of Texas Tech's centennial year, the School of Theatre and Dance collaborated with the Office of the President on a kick-off performance entitled “Eyes on the Horizon.” The event celebrated the first 100 years of Texas Tech, 1923 to present-day, while looking forward to the next 100 years. Directed by Dr. Bill Gelber, and choreographed by Kyla Olson, both Theatre & Dance faculty, the performance took place August 25 in the Allen Theatre.
“The performance was the idea and vision of Blayne Beal, director of the Centennial Celebration,” explained Gelber. “It was up to us to make sure that vision happened. We wanted to represent the School well.”
Dr. Charney, Director of the School of Theatre & Dance, worked alongside Beal as producer, and, for months ahead of the Centennial kick off, discussions were held about all aspects of the production, from script to the actual event. “Blayne was a terrific partner,” Charney explained, “not only representing the goals of the President's Office, but also working to understand the culture of our School. We couldn't envision a better process.”
Over the summer, playwriting students Jada Campbell, Bradley Hewlett, Garret Milton, and Ben Stanford began work on the script, each writing a separate section for the performance. Milton made one final pass on the script before rehearsals began in August. Informal readings were held in the conference room, and Milton worked to actualize the critiques given. The playwrights worked tirelessly to capture the vision of the President's Office.
This represents a collaboration, under the watchful eye of Beal, that challenged our playwriting students in all the right ways: how best to present information that could be considered “dry” in a manner both entertaining and informative.
“The students were wonderful,” said Gelber. They were willing to dedicate their time, even though it was summer, to working on the show.”
Rehearsals began in August with Gelber selecting six actors and Olson selecting six dancers—all Theatre & Dance students—to fill the various roles. There were lots of moving parts in the production including video projections, moving set pieces, on stage appearances by pom squad, cheer squad, the marching band—even the masked rider got in on the action!
Jared Roberts designed the innovative set, which was evocative of both West Texas and the early days of the university we all love. Mallory Prucha designed costumes that not only allowed for our small cast to represent a variety of characters, but also enlivened the atmosphere of the entire event. Associate Dean Andrea Bilkey realized the lights, so evocative of the area, and Jacob Henry, an alum of our MFA design program, the sound.
The design represents what our School does best. As Charney explains, “Especially impressive were the actors, dancers, and designers who made the tornado which ravaged Lubbock in the 70's an artful dance event. What a great kick off not only to the Centennial, but the semester ahead.”
With so much happening, collaboration and problem-solving were the keys to success. “Our School was proud,” Charney said, “not only of the entire process, but also that we found the best means to realize the President's vision.