Gamecock Guide Sneak Peek: JSU Drama

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief


Have you ever dreamed a dream of performing onstage for a living? Maybe you’d rath-er create the stage or the costumes or direct the next Tony award-winning show. Well, you’re not alone. The students of JSU’s drama department are not throwing away their shots at a career in theater. With major concentrations in performance and design-tech and minors in drama and film, the JSU drama department offers something for every aspiring theater student.

Ansley Gayton is a junior from Calhoun, Ga. As a design-technical major, she has worked behind-the-scenes on multiple shows and served as the wardrobe head for productions of “These Shining Lives” and “The Tempest.”

“When I’m working on a show I don’t feel like I’m actually working, and I wanted my job to be like that,” Gayton said.

Savannah Jones felt the same.

Jones graduated from JSU in April 2017 with a degree in drama performance and plans on pursuing theatre professsionally. She’s had several offers following graduation, but hasn’t yet decided her path. Until then, she has accepted temporary gigs working with a children’s theatre program in Florida and with JSU’s annual Drama Camp.

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Dr. Pitt Harding of the English department alongside Brooke Elam as Miranda and Savannah Jones as Caliban in JSU’s February 2017 production of “The Tempest.” (photo by JSU Drama)

“JSU’s Drama Department will always be my first family,” Jones said. “It was honestly one of the first places I ever felt truly at home. They taught me that theatre requires you to bust your butt but that you are bound to make a tight-knit family in the process.”

Jones starred in numerous productions at JSU, most recently as Catherine Donohue in “These Shining Lives” and Caliban in “The Tempest.” She also served as president of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honor society and directed the chapter’s production of “Dorothy Meets Alice, or the Wizard of Wonderland.”

“Theatre affects everyone,” Jones said. “Each production changes and effects all those involved, from directors, actors, technicians, all the way to the audience. JSU Drama taught me that theatre brings us together and helps us all to understand what it means to be human and forces us to exercise our empathy and open our minds.”

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Champ Bryant (as Leonard Grossman), standing, addresses (sitting from L to R) Alexis Robinson (Pearl Payne), Ebony Antoine (Charlotte Purcell), Allison Lawley (Frances O’Connell) and Savannah Jones (Catherine Donohue) in JSU’s October 2016 production of “These Shining Lives.” Costume designs by JSU student Margaret McCrina. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)


The department, which has been accredited since 1994, recently produced a Fulbright scholar: Dr. Ellen Peck. Peck spent the 2016-2017 school year at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Romania.

JSU’s drama faculty shine in their own right. Each faculty member has professional experience in their respective areas, from costuming to set construction to performance and from local theatre groups to Broadway.

“Follow your passion in life; the direction you choose now is the beginning of your life’s journey and will require work, dedication and the drive to be the best that you can be,” advised Freddy Clements, who was promoted to distinguished professor of drama at the faculty awards ceremony in May. Clements will start his 30th year at JSU in the fall.

Gayton agrees, and tells students that there’s no day but today to start.

“My advice to incoming freshmen is get involved and learn new things,” Gayton said. “If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone to teach you. If you want to know how to do something, just ask someone who knows how to do it already.”

Students of all majors and theatre backgrounds are encouraged to audition and volunteer with the drama department.


Watch JSU’s production of “The Tempest” here!

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