Browse By

Theatre classes return to Chemeketa next fall

By Max Romprey

On November 17th, Acting I and Theatre Appreciation, new classes taught by Jay Gipson-King, were approved by the Chemeketa Curriculum Committee.

The group, which meets to review proposed new courses or changes to existing curriculum, heard a presentation from King on the content of the courses and then voted in favor of approving the classes.

King stressed the time-sensitivity of approving the courses into the catalog. “I could talk for an hour about all the reasons why theatre’s important and why we need it here and why it’s beneficial to students,” King said, “but you probably don’t want that since there’s not much time in the meeting.”

Justus Ballard, an Instructor in the English Program, made his support for the revival of theatre at Chemeketa known at the meeting. “Theatre is one of the things that we have missed most in the past five years,” he said. “Having theatre classes and a performing arts component to a community college is a vital part of engaging with a community. It includes students, gives them an opportunity to do things that they don’t get anywhere else, and it’s excellent that we’re bringing it back.”

Dean of Humanities Don Brase and Visual and Performing Arts Program Chair Laura Mack were also in attendance. While enthusiasm seemed high for the return of the classes, one item discussed with a bit of playful dispute was a matter of spelling.

“There was a question about the change of spelling from the theater ‘e-r’ to the theatre ‘r-e’,” said King. “The short answer to this question is that for the people that make and practice theatre ‘r-e’ is the preferred and practiced spelling.”

Ballard interjected: “May I ask why?”

King replied “Eh, yes,” as a hearty laugh filled the conference room. “It links theatre people in a tradition that goes all the way back to Greece in 500 B.C.E.”

King was evidently well-prepared to argue this particular point. “If you check the Portland Area Theatre Alliance, they have 89 theatre companies with the word ‘theatre’ in the name, 70 of which actually use the ‘r-e’ spelling. So, that’s a 78% preference in Portland, and in Salem, of the local top companies, 9 out of 10 of our local companies that have ‘theatre’ in the name use the ‘r-e’ spelling. So, ‘r-e’ is the British, but it is not only the British, it is the British, it is the French, it is the Italian, it is the Greek, and it is 78% of our own local theatres.”

Ballard replied, “This is a divergence between the theatre professionals in the performing arts and the English majors or professionals who prefer standard written American English to be spelled the way it is in America and not the way it is in other countries.” He then concluded, “However, it is a valid reason that you are following other professionals in your field with that spelling. English has no objections, just sadness.”

Acting I and Theatre Appreciation will be offered in the Chemeketa catalog starting in the fall of 2017.