November 18, 2011

Regent Theatre to Explore Shaker Culture

By Rachel Judy

The religious order of Shakers—often known for their quality furniture craftsmanship and an intense work ethic—is the subject of the latest offering from Regent University Theatre. Arlene Hutton's As it is in Heaven is set to open on Friday, Nov. 18, at the Communication & Performing Arts Center.

 The play tells the story of a group of Shaker women confronted with a spiritual revival in their midst. Sparked by an outsider who joins their group, the revival forces the women to question the traditions they cling to.

 The play's director, theatre instructor Derek Martin, is hoping to convey the simplicity of the Shaker life through the dialogue, the sets and, yes, even the Shaker songs and dances incorporated into the production.

 "The audiences can expect to see a simple production that deals with complex themes, which are some of my favorite productions," Martin explained. "The play moves fast; scenes move seamlessly from one to the next." Also, he adds, "the audience will see the Shakers doing what they are famous for—shaking."
The Shaker name came from the ways members would shake during services. Martin and his actors are attempting to recreate the unusual movement.

 Ultimately, Martin explains, the play is about much more than the historical retelling of a religious order's practices. "A young shaker begins to see visions and the older shakers don't believe her because they think if God was going to reveal Himself, He would first visit the elders," Martin said. "This theme speaks to Jesus' commentary about the Pharisees of His time. We see, at times, that this still plagues the church and I believe this play speaks right to the heart of it. The play is saying to us, 'Don't miss God!'"
MFA in acting students Diana Coates and Madeline Ranson will perform their thesis roles in this production.
As it is in Heaven runs Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 1-4.

 Purchase tickets through the Regent University Box Office.

November 11, 2011

A Word from Derek Martin - Director of As It Is In Heaven

Derek Martin - Director
What an exciting adventure this year is for the Regent Theatre. It is a marvelous feat to see all of our Mainstage plays examine the role of spiritual faith in our daily lives. The play I have been blessed to direct, As It Is in Heaven, has been labeled with the slogan “Faith Transformed,” and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate perspective on this compelling drama.

 As It Is in Heaven is about an interesting and often enigmatic religious sect that still exists in America, the Shakers. As I began my research into this group, I questioned whether the group was best categorized as a cult. I found that there were many communities of the Shaker faith that perhaps did become such. However, mainstream Christianity shares much with these hardworking believers who have committed their “Hands to work, and hearts to God.” That saying is the Shaker credo, coined by their matriarch Mother Ann Lee.

 The story at the heart of this play presents a challenging perspective on our own faith. It is about the transforming work God is always doing within us and how we must be careful to not miss where He is moving in our lives. How many times in history have we had our eyes closed to the incredible works of God because of our traditions, our limited perspectives, our fears, our need to belong, our frustrations, our pride, or our need to control? I know there have been times in my own life when I have missed God for just such reasons, and what a shame that is.

 This play ultimately questions our ability to see clearly the hand of God. We watch the Shaker women deal with the possibility that God might be showing up in a most unconventional way. We will be challenged as they are challenged to put our beliefs on the line and ultimately be transformed in faith and in life.

 I welcome you to take the challenge. Be transformed. Examine both the questions and the answers. After you leave this auditorium, keep your eyes open. God often moves in ways we least expect.

As It Is In Heaven runs from Nov. 18 - Nov. 20 and Dec. 1 - Dec. 4 in the Studio Theater.
Call the Box Office for tickets at 757.352.4245

November 4, 2011

Alumni Update: Kevin Stidham

Kevin Stidham, MFA '09
Kevin Stidham graduated from Regent's MFA program in 2009, and currently lives in LA with his wife, Amy. For any actors considering moving to LA, Kevin stresses the importance of using and He says he uses both of these sites everyday to check the breakdowns that are listed to the public and to submit himself for things he's right for. Using these sites led to the booking of Kevin's first  play, The Hasty Heart. Shortly after that, he booked a second play, War at Theatre Banshee. From that play, he was invited to join their theatre company. Since then he has performed The Crucible and The Walworth Farce with Theatre Banshee.

Kevin has also done some "extras" work, including becoming a photo double on the FOX show Bones. This is his second full season doubling for actor T.J. Thyne. Basically, all the "inserted shots" of his hands, shoes, shoulders and elbows....that's Kevin.

Kevin recently finished a run of his first Equity production, Honus & Me, just outside of LA.  Here's a link to a review of the production,where critic Kim Kautzer states, "As the play opens, we take an immediate liking to the fresh-faced, wide-eyed underdog Joey Stoshack, played by Kevin Stidham."

Kevin says, "Good theatre is alive in LA, you just have to seek it out.  It's been almost two and a half years since my wife and I moved here and I can report that all steps...small, though they may be....have been in a positive direction."

Kevin Stidham as Joey Stoshack
 in Honus and Me