Middle Georgia State College revives theater program, opens with ‘Doubt: A Parable’

Telegraph correspondentOctober 25, 2013 


Troynecia Burden, left, and Rebekah Stone appear in Middle Georgia State College’s production of “Doubt: A Parable.”

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH — gblankenship@macon.com Buy Photo

A revived theater program at Middle Georgia State College will present its first stage production of the fall semester.

“Doubt: A Parable” opens Oct. 30 at the Arts Complex Theatre on the Macon campus and runs through Nov. 3.

“There’s really a lot of potential here, there really is,” said J. Scott McElheney, who was hired last fall as an assistant professor of theater. “My long-term goal is to make Middle Georgia State College a destination for students that want to study theater.”

“Doubt” features a student-led cast of three women and a man.

“It’s about doubt. It’s about doubting one’s convictions, one’s beliefs, one’s faith,” said McElheney, who is directing the production. “It centers around a nun in a parochial school in New York who has a personal vendetta against a parish priest. She is convinced he is behaving inappropriately with a student.”

McElheney said the nun works to remove the priest and brings in a younger nun as a co-conspirator.

“In the end, she does successfully get rid of the priest but by doing so she really begins to doubt herself,” he said. “By the end, she is not sure she has done the right thing.”

The audience is left to decide if the priest was guilty, McElheney said.

“It’s a fairly serious piece of theater but there are some moments of humor in it,” he said. “It’s something that will make an audience member think. I would classify it definitely as a dramatic piece.”

The production is the first since Middle Georgia State College officially launched its new associate degree in theater this fall.

“What we’re trying to do now is a combination of a new theater degree and a new director and a revitalized institution,” said Kevin Cantwell, who is chair of the college’s Media, Culture and Arts department. “We’re trying to get some momentum and reestablish Middle Georgia State College as a home for theater, which it was for a long time.”

He said the college once had a “vigorous” theater program under the direction of professor Sydney Chalfa but funding was cut some years back. Last year, the department was given the OK to hire a theater director and brought McElheney on board in summer 2012.

“Coincidental with that, we were consolidating our institution, Macon State College, with Middle Georgia College and they had a theater program that was ... on the books, but they didn’t have a theater director and they hadn’t offered the classes in a while,” Cantwell said. “So, it was a lucky combination of us hiring a director and the college revitalizing an associate’s degree in theater.”

He said the college is already seeing results.

“We are strengthening our film curriculum. We’ve hired a filmmaker for the first time, so we’re pleased about that,” Cantwell said. “In general, the department is in all areas -- art, music, theater -- especially trying to strengthen what we’re offering and trying to draw from what the former Middle Georgia College offered and what Macon State offered and combine these strengths to provide more curriculum for students.”

“Doubt: A Parable”

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30-Nov. 2; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 3

Where: Arts Complex Theatre, Middle Georgia State College’s Macon campus

Cost: $8 general admission; $5 senior citizens and other students; free for MGSC students, faculty and staff

Information: 757-7387

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