MADDRAMA Week – Jan 26-31st

January 28th, 2014 by speech

MADDRAMA Week Begins January 26th.  Click on the poster for a larger version with details and showtimes:


Posted in Uncategorized

The past four weeks have been a busy time for the cast and production team of "Ruined" in the Dept of Speech and Theatre. "This play is based on real events happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have worked tirelessly to bring this story to life, and feel ourselves honored to do so" says director Dr. Nadia Bodie-Smith.

From Lynn Notage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Ruined" is a haunting, probing work about the resilience of the human spirit during times of war. Set in a small mining town in Democratic Republic of Congo, this powerful play follows Mama Nadi, a shrewd businesswoman in a land torn apart by civil war. But is Mama Nadia protecting or profiting by the women she shelters? How far will she go to survive? Can a price be placed on a human life?

The department and cast want to do more than just stage the story, so they are hosting a Congo-based non-profit organization, Rudi International, that focuses on educating Congolese children. These efforts they hope will minimize the violence and brutality in the region. Representatives from the organization will be at each performance.
Director Dr. Bodie-Smith adds, "We want audiences to come and have a good time.  The actors dance, sing, fight, and push the boundaries of our western sensibilities. Ruined truly is a tremendous, touching production with the laughter of survival and the cry for hope. "
Ruined runs Nov 7-11, 2013 at the Rose McCoy Auditorium on the JSU campus.

Posted in Uncategorized

JSU Students Attend USITT in Milwaukee, WI

April 4th, 2013 by speech

Three JSU students and a faculty member recently attended the annual conference and expo of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).  The students who journeyed to Milwaukee were Brodrick Whittley, senior theatre minor, Marquez Williams, senior theatre minor, and Jenilyn Saul, sophomore theatre major.  They were accompanied by Patrick Benton, visiting assistant professor and interim technical director.

The conference featured dozens of meetings for every specialty skill in the industry. Whether in a classroom setting or at an evening social, the JSU delegation along with 5,000 other industry experts, educators, students and vendors found a forum to discuss pressing issues, learn solutions and network for the future.  Some of the sessions that JSU representatives attended included: Stage Management Roundtable, People of Color Networking Project, Hands-On Makeup and Hair, Award Winning Sustainability in Scenic Design, and The Reality of Designing in New York.

The stage expo boasted the largest theatre-focused trade show floor in America. More than 200 companies presented the latest innovations in theatre technology and design from all over the world.  The JSU students who attended were able to interview with potential employers such as Disney and Cirque du Soleil.  They also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of advanced training programs such as the Savannah College of Art and Design, Yale School of Drama and the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. 

The 2013 conference marked the first time JSU was represented at USITT. The expression which was most frequently used to describe the experience was “Wow!”  The students also expressed their deep gratitude to Dr. Mark Henderson, interim chair for Speech and Theatre, Dr. Lawrence Potter, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and the entire JSU administration who helped make their trip possible. 

The JSU Department of Speech Communication and Theatre hopes to show even more students the myriad options available to them at the next USITT conference and expo which will take place March 26-29, 2014 in Fort Worth, TX. 

Posted in Uncategorized

KCACTF Nominees – February 2013

March 24th, 2013 by speech

Congratulations to our Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Nominees: Ashlei Murray, Jacquela Carter Hulitt, Charence Higgins, Jasmine Rivera and Marquez Williams. These students were nominated by national adjudicators to attend the conference in Albany, GA Feb. 5-9, 2013. Students will be judged for their acting capability and stage management skills. Congratulations!

Posted in Uncategorized

This ‘Doc’ uses guidance as a cure

March 24th, 2013 by speech

From the Clarion Ledger:


“To be Young, Gifted and Black” “Oh what a lovely and precious gift.”

Many know these words as lyrics from Nina Simone’s song that served as an anthem during the civil rights era.  But, in the Jackson community, Dr. Mark Henderson uses it to empower others. It also serves as the motto of MADDRAMA, the performance troupe he founded.

Henderson is the current director of the Theatre department at Jackson State University.

“Doc” is how most JSU students refer to Henderson. When I think about this title, I compare him to an actual physician. The way he deals with each individual based on their “symptoms” further exemplifies his dedication to building them up rather than giving them generic medicine they’ve probably been getting their entire lives.

The people Doc comes in contact with come from many walks of life with various expectations of life and different ways of dealing with their personal issues.

“One of the first questions I ask students who come to me for guidance is “What do you need from me; How can I help you?” It is from there that I begin to see what their needs are and I attend to that,” said Doc.

Click here for the full article at the Clarion Ledger: Full Article

Posted in Uncategorized

As posted on the Blue&White Flash:

Jackson State University alumna Erica Singleton, better known as Erica Michelle, nabbed the role “Daphne” in the new horror film “The Last Exorcism Part II” that just premiered in theaters Mar. 1. The El Dorado, Ark. native has gone from the theater department at JSU to the big screen inside your local movie theater.

“My agency sent me an email about “The Last Exorcism Part II” saying they were casting and the director wanted to see me. I didn’t want to do it because it was “The Last Exorcism.” It’s kind of sensitive to my faith and that was just something I did not want to do,” said Michelle. “I remember my agent emailing me saying the director has not yet received your tape yet. You need to have it in tomorrow by a certain time or they were going to drop me.”

Click here to view the full story at the Blue & White Flash: Full Story…

Posted in Uncategorized

Mrs. Candace Brown and Mrs. Laura McDavitt were selected to participate in Jackson State University’s Course Redesign with Blackboard 9 Project in July conducted by The Center for Distance Learning and Instructional Technology.

The project is designed to redesign selected classes allowing them to be offered to students online in the fall of 2012. The redesign will strive to improved student outcomes through effective online course design and the utilization of various instructional technologies to deliver learning experiences.

Posted in Uncategorized

Visiting Assistant Professor and Interim Technical Director Patrick Benton spent most of June brushing up his scenic painting skills at Cobalt Studios in White Lake, NY. Cobalt Studios is known throughout the entertainment industry for sending productive and skillful graduates into the workforce as professional scenic artists. Some of the topics covered in the intensive three-week session included color mixing and theory, large scale drawing, perspective, creating marble and wood for theatre, trompe l’oiel effects, painting draperies and landscapes on flat surfaces, as well as painting scenery on unusual surfaces and translucent backdrops. Benton looks forward to using many of these techniques for JSU Theatre productions and sharing them with his students.

Posted in Uncategorized

Theatre faculty Yolanda Williams was selected to participate in the Young Leaders of Color program to attend the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference in Boston from June 20-24, 2012. “An independent selection panel comprised of theatre professionals from across the country carefully reviewed each nomination and application and spent a great deal of time deliberating before making their difficult decisions.”

Ms. Williams is eager to begin sharing the wealth of knowlege she has gained from participating in the panel. “This is a great honor and I wanted to share this with our Department as well as the University.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Adjunct instructor and resident scenic and lighting designer Patrick Benton recently joined the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).

Mr. Benton says “I’m very happy to be a member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. USITT has served design, production and technology professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry since 1960. Many USITT standards have been adopted industry-wide. USITT also publishes Theatre Design & Technology, a quarterly journal which covers theatre architecture, costume design and technology, education, engineering, health and safety, lighting, management, scene design, sound design, and technical production. Additionally, USITT hosts an annual conference for students, professionals, equipment manufacturers and other vendors. Its website is www.usitt.org.”

Posted in Uncategorized