Lauren Gunderson’s play “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” relies heavily on its actors to hit just the right notes. It is both a slapstick comedy and a somber meditation on marriage, abuse and loving the unlovable.
The theatre department’s fall production featured four outstanding student actors: Sarah Scholl, Keegan Stalcup, Micah Haynes and Sarah Hensley. The cast members shared their A&M-Commerce experiences and future plans:
“It’s impossible for me to express what I have gained in my time here. The theatre department has been a second home to me. I’ve grown up here—as a person, as an artist, as a professional and as an actor. It wasn’t until I got to Commerce that I really began to grasp the concept of how a professional theatre company could (and should) be run. At A&M-Commerce we have professors who are professional actors, distinguished playwrights and designers. We are fortunate to work one-on-one with these people, to learn from them and then go on and represent them.”
Haynes graduated with his B.A. from A&M-Commerce in 2011 and is in the last year of his graduate degree here.
“My first production here was the musical, ‘Kiss Me Kate.’ It was my first musical experience, and it was fun, but that experience can’t compare to how close I’ve become with the cast and crew of this play. It’s a much smaller cast and a demanding role for me. I’ve learned so much from Dr. Klypchak [director] as well as my cast and crew members. I didn’t know what to expect when I first moved to Commerce. However, I quickly fell in love with my new theatre family. Everyone works so hard together, spending the wee hours of the night and early into the morning, making beautiful art come together.
Hensley has plans to head to a big city to “spread her wings” when she finishes her degree.
“I began college back in 2008, and I struggled with choosing and changing my major. I first had an opportunity in the theatre department in “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” in 2012. I changed my major to theatre the next semester, and I have yet to regret it. I have had many opportunities to represent the university playhouse at professional events and social gatherings. I’ve had the good fortune to work with extremely talented individuals, and I’ve been coached in the art of theatre performance, management and design.”
Stalcup plans to study for an M.F.A. in technical design. Professionally, he hopes to design, act and teach.
“I am grateful to the teachers and students within the theatre department because they have helped me to truly grow as an artist. I would not be as confident as an actor or as strong as a person, as I am, were it not for the people I’ve met here and the grace of God. The work I was a part of here in the Commerce theatre department has inspired me to continue to explore my craft and to grow into a creative professional. The students and professors here live their art and inspire with their determination; these are values they have instilled in me.”