ASHLEY STREETER | FEATURES COLUMNIST
Have you ever wandered past Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts and seen a line of people out the door? Maybe you have heard music echoing in its hallways or seen lights peeking out from under the doors.
Did you ever wonder what was in that building attached to Ruth’s Marketplace or why a bunch of Graphos journals were sitting in the third-floor lounge of the Campus Center? These are all a part of the many ways that St. Norbert College supports and celebrates the arts.
Theater is celebrated in Dudley Birder Hall and the Abbott Pennings Hall of Fine Arts. Each semester, theatre majors and minors stage a production alongside their classmates who share a love of the stage.
Another way students can experience the stage is through the student organization Knight Theater. The entirely student-run organization selects one full-length musical each academic year, puts it together over the winter break and then performs it for the campus community in the first weeks of the spring semester. Students make up the entire cast and crew, so there are always plenty of spots for anyone who is interested in participating: from directing, acting, stage construction, marketing and ticket selling, there’s a lot to do each year.
Another way students can get involved is by joining the theater program’s production. This year’s show, “The Tempest,” was a success in the box office, and Knight Theatre’s musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” is expected to do just as well.
Another highly accredited organization on campus is St. Norbert College’s Music Theatre. This organization was created by Dudley Birder in 1921 to help bring together the community; it does so by using local performers to share Broadway musicals with the communities in northeastern region of the state.
In the last 96 years, Music Theater has presented more than 75 productions, comprised of over 800 performances, to an audience of approximately 500,000.
The organization also runs two annual programs, Summer Stage (a production involving local talent of all ages) and Next Stage (a program focusing on high school actors from the community). These programs combine the talents of local volunteers and professional staff to produce musicals for the community. This outstanding program performs two or more musicals each year.
Students that would rather avoid dialogue and costumes but still want to share their musical talents with the world can look no further than the St. Norbert College music program.
Students who are studying music at St. Norbert might be interested in NAfME, the National Association for Music Educators. However, there are many other opportunities for students who are not majoring in music education or music in general to share their talents. There are instrumental and vocal ensembles (both auditioned and non-auditioned) on campus that perform at Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts, Old St. Joseph Church and Dudley Birder Hall. With these different groups, students of many levels of familiarity and skill with music can find an outlet for creative expression through sound.
Students can also play in the pit for Musical Theater programs, perform in a community show with the Knights on Broadway or work with local high school students through the annual Winter BandFest.
And what about students whose strengths lay with a pencil or paintbrush, or hidden within a pile of clay? Students who would rather sculpt the world than play for it? There are plenty of options for SNC’s visual artists, as well. Students’ work is presented in the Carol and Robert Bush Art center, which contains three galleries, an exhibition series, classrooms and the college’s art collection. The highlight of the center is the Godschalx exhibition, which, as explained by the college’s website, is dedicated to the “professional exhibition of student art.”
In addition to displaying student’s work, the St. Norbert College visual arts program offers field trips to major museums and galleries, local and regional art exhibitions and art competitions. Finally. the college also hosts an annual juried student art exhibition for students’ work.
Finally, what of the students who would rather write than speak, sing, play or draw? There are opportunities for them at SNC, too. St. Norbert hosts a journal called “The North Wind” on campus that publishes critical literary work and a bi-annual student-run literary journal, “Graphos,” that highlights students’ submitted stories, photography, poems and essays.
Finally, if you would like to enjoy the arts rather than or in addition to participating in them, you can stop by Walter Theater for a performance, stroll through the Carol and Robert Bush Art Center or pick up the next edition of Graphos. You never know what you may find. Maybe you will be inspired to create your own masterpiece.