Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clayton State Theater Majors Experience Huck Finn

Clayton State University Theater majors Susan Maddox (Rex, Ga.) and Kimberly McCloud (El Paso, Tx.), are getting hands on experience with their involvement in “Big River - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a musical production of Theatrical Outfit, currently playing through Oct. 5 at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St., Atlanta.

Both students became involved in theater at an early age.

“I've been involved with theater since pre-school. My first starring role was baby Jesus in our Christmas pageant,” says Maddox, who is part of the production crew for Big River. “I became really involved in theater in high school. My first experience in real theater was as an assistant director. Over the years I became more and more involved in technical theater which resulted in a job at the Clayton County Schools Performing Arts Center.

“I left theater for a couple of years to try my hand at photography. I came back to the performing arts center and transferred to Clayton State in 2005. My first experience with theater at Clayton State was in Introduction to Theater before the Theater major was created. I enjoyed all of the theater classes I took and the day the major was official I signed up.”

“I began doing some acting at my church,” says McCloud, who plays the role of Townsperson in the musical. “There was a lull of a few years between now and then. [Clayton State Theater Director] Phillip DePoy encouraged me to take it up once again during my participation in Acting I with him in fall 2004.”

Maddox and McCloud give the Clayton State theater program great praises and credit for the hands on experience they are receiving.

“There are many things I love about Clayton State's theatre program. The first is how tight knit and close we all are. The theater majors share many classes together and spend a lot of time in rehearsal so we get to know each other very well and we have quickly become a small family,” says Maddox. “I also love the fact that my professors have come directly from professional theater and send their students into Atlanta with opportunities and contacts. I am comforted in knowing that my professors are giving me information that will help me survive in a career that is notorious for its hardships. It makes the transition from school to work much less intimidating.”

“What I absolutely love about the Clayton State University theater program is the exposure to professionals in the Atlanta theatre community. Our study of the theatrical arts is not solely academic it is put into practice and exercised with artists who make their living doing what we dream and plan to do,” McCloud says. “Artists like Phillip DePoy, Shontelle Thrash, Patricia Henrizte, Hugh Adams, Jen Akin, Ken Yunker, Rochelle Barker, and Joan McCurdy come to the Clayton State University Theatre and generously work with students. It has been wonderful.”

Despite some of the challenges that students face, there are many rewards. As a result, both students have risen to the occasion by taking advantage of many opportunities.

“I'm glad to know that I'm heading in the right direction and I'm doing what I need to do to be successful. I feel that I have opportunities opening up to me and I'm very excited,” says Maddox. “My goal for the near future is to become a director in Atlanta. I also would like to go to graduate school at Sarah Lawrence in New York and work toward a Ph.D. in dramaturgy. My ultimate goal is to start my own theater company in North Georgia for school age kids to get them involved and excited about the arts.”

“The biggest reward is the feeling of confidence and destiny that has been cultivated in me while rehearsing and while waiting in the wings for my entrance when the house is packed. It is like a shock of electricity that stirs me to perform and tell whatever story I have to tell in that moment,” McCloud says. “I am graduating in December, and then starts the real working actor's job -- auditioning. The internship I have right now at Theatrical Outfit has put me in contact with people that I hope to work with and for in the future. Also, there are the Unified Auditions in the spring held by the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts. I'll be there with a large group of metro area actors and hopefuls to present myself to over 60 theaters for their consideration. So, the future looks bright.”

“Actress Jill Jane Clements called me yesterday with effusive praise for both of these students. I’m very proud of them. This is exactly what we want from this theater program: experience in the real world of theatre that most often translates to actual jobs,” adds DePoy.

For more information on “Big River - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” go to www.theatricaloutfit.org.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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