Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alluvion creates flood of opportunity

Liberty’s Department of Theatre Arts turns blessing into promise with the creation of a new stage company

The outpouring of talent from Liberty University’s Department of Theatre Arts has flooded into a new business venture.

Taking stage — Students will now be able to work alongside working artists and performers in theater shows produced under the Alluvion branch. Photo credit: Barney Davis

Alluvion Stage Company, a professional branch of Liberty’s theatre department, will be producing shows which incorporate sets of higher quality with select theatre students and actors with the experience of the professional stage.

“The shows have become a family event. The resources are now available to us because of our new facilities and professionals have been contacting us to ask how they could be involved because of our national exposure,” Department Chair Linda Nell Cooper said. “We saw this and started thinking how can we take advantage of this opportunity and supply the needs of our audience, as well as the needs of our upcoming seniors, who are very much ready for professional work?”

According to Cooper, the vision of starting Liberty’s own Stage Company had been five years in the making, and has been actively created within the last six months. Alluvion, which means “overflow,” will provide student actors the opportunity to perform, side by side, with working professionals, learning and building connections that will benefit them once they graduate.

The idea of the company’s creation became a reality after the overwhelming response to the department’s performance of Phantom of the Opera at the Tower stage in April 2011.

“As a department, we cannot afford to do six shows at the caliber of Phantom and yet we have a public that now requests productions like Phantom. We don’t want to compromise what we do in the academic world where we experiment with something like 39 Steps, which is a small cast, small show. It’s not commercial at all but it’s really good for our students academically. We aren’t depending on selling out the house in order for it to happen,” Cooper said. “This way we can balance between our shows by adding a professional arm. The professional arm’s focus is entertainment, pleasing an audience and giving them something to look forward to as a family.”

The business will also allow Liberty to have exclusive rights to their shows and offer premieres.

The first show produced under Alluvion will be Peter Pan, set to take stage April 13 to 29, a long-time dream for the theater department.

“Peter Pan was one of the shows that when we were at Lloyd Theater, we always said that if we ever get the right theater, Peter Pan is a show we should do because there was no way we could ever do it there. Other shows we adapted to there but Peter Pan we couldn’t,” Cooper said. “When we were thinking of Peter Pan, we thought, why not go professional with that one? Why not spend just a little more as a professional theater to bring in the right special effects and do it the way no one has ever done it in Lynchburg, that no one has ever done it in Central Virginia?”

The show will star upperclassmen Caleb Hughes as Peter Pan, who will be acting alongside Liberty professor Chris Nelson who will take the role of Captain Hook.

“A lot of these students that are going to be graduating this year were in my first class, because this is my fourth year being here. The ones leaving are the ones that came in when I came in so that’s kind of a neat opportunity,” Nelson said. “I’ll be acting with people that have been here as long as I have as a professor and I’ve had them in classes. It’s a fun opportunity to get up there and put into practice what I teach. It is going to be a ton of fun, being able to create characters and have fun moments with some of these students who are leaving.”

The Department of Theatre Arts will continue to produce shows such as Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps, as Alluvion continues to grow with each year.

“Our plan is to start with Peter Pan and then grow from that,” Cooper said. “We would like to do two shows next year, and then three shows until we have a complete season of professional shows and a complete season of academic shows.”

Alluvion’s ticket prices will range from $5 to $20, depending on the seating tier. Ticket discounts will still be provided for students, children less than 12 years of age, senior citizens and those who serve in the military.

For more information about the Tower Theater, the Department of Theatre Arts and Liberty’s spring theater shows, visit liberty.edu/theatre.

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