The cost of theatre in Edinboro

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 9:35 AM
The cost of theatre in Edinboro by Jamie Heinrich
Graphic | Mason Kuhr/Vecteezy

In the absence of monetary administrative support, students of the Edinboro University theatre program have stepped up to keep the program alive. Recent production, “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” has incited hope in the rebuilding of EU’s theatre program. 

 “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” was produced and funded by Alpha Psi Omega, an academic honors fraternity whose goal is to promote theatre on campus. They oversee the functions of all four theatre organizations (Alpha Psi Omega, University Players, Dramatic Activities and All Jokes Aside), and help direct the theatre as a whole. 

 The honors organization looks at the show as a fiscal success. Mikhail Ferree — treasurer of Alpha Psi Omega, University Players and Dramatic Activities — said “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” broke even through ticket sales and even turned a profit. Throughout the eight showings, Ferree said, “Our show grossed $1,506.52…These are the largest numbers we’ve seen in two years here. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.” Ferree further stated that the show cost approximately $1,315, which is 51 percent of Alpha Psi Omega’s annual budget. 

 Alpha Psi Omega produced two shows this school year, including “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” despite the tight budget. Though, tight budgets are the trend within the theatre department as a whole. When asked how much money the theatre has, Ferree said: “In short, not much. In truth, not enough. However, theatre never truly has enough money.”

“Our current budget for the year, between Alpha Psi Omega, University Players and Dramatic Activities, is $12,735.62. That is the money the school has generously given us to help things run,” said Ferree.

 He added: “However, that’s not to say the theatre as a whole has that much money. That is the combined total of the three primary groups. The budget for each group of course is separate and is spent on functions pertaining to the particular group’s interest.”

 Dr. William Hunter — faculty advisor to Alpha Psi Omega, Dramatic Activities and University Players — said,“Historically, most of the financial end of Edinboro’s theatre activities has come from EUSGA (Edinboro University Student Government Association), and we greatly appreciate what they do for us.” Hunter continued: “Since the end of the theatre major and the retirement of Professor (Shawn) Taylor, the role that the university plays is being rethought. As a new advisor, along with Dr. Kathleen Golden, I have been working with the music and theatre department and the dean’s office to restart the academic end of the theatre.”

 In fall of 2017, Ferree was part of a meeting along with Maddie Krol (Alpha Psi Omega president, then vice president) and Torie Witherow (Alpha Psi Omega vice president, then pledge) where they reached out to EU’s administration through Dean Dr. Scott Miller and made a case for theatre. “It was received very well, but what we asked for wasn’t more money, but better organization,” said Ferree. “We want theatre classes on campus, but our school doesn’t have the money to simply give it to us. So, we suggested that including classes that are already very theatre-based, like ‘Introduction to Performance,’ may be a cost-effective way of redeveloping the program, and so far that message seems to have stuck.”

Going forward, students involved with the theatre are trying to organize themselves and form a group that can run in a sustainable way as a student-led institution. In the aforementioned meeting with Ferree, Witherow and Miller, Krol said: “The administration has noticed how much effort the students have put into the theatre. We put together a presentation to let him (Miller) know what our goals are, how we can achieve them, addressed a lot of problems that would arise, and then gave multiple solutions as to how we could ease back into a full program.” 

Currently, students involved in theatre are working on establishing a foothold on campus. Without an official major, matters may seem grim for Edinboro theatre, but as students have continued to reach out to faculty and administration, they have found many allies to their cause. 

“Fortunately, we have really come together as a student-led theatre, but it has not been without challenges,” said Ferree. 

Jamie Heinrich |

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