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Winter Edition
Volume 96, Number 4


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Alumna Stephanie Fieger (left) shines on stage in New York University’s October 2004 production of Landscape of the Body.
Alumna Stephanie Fieger (above) shines on stage in New York University’s October 2004 production of Landscape of the Body.
Theatre alumna studies in competitive acting program
Messiah theatre education offers depth and breadth

Stephanie Fieger ’02 was among 18 people chosen from 1,000 applicants who auditioned for a three-year master’s in acting program at New York University, where she is now in her second year. It was the extensive acting experience, one-on-one coaching by professors, and broad exposure to acting at Messiah that prepared her for the audition and for graduate school itself, she says.

Messiah’s campuswide commitment to test theory with practice underscores the comprehensive education Fieger received as a theatre major. “Every semester our students are required to take their classroom learning into the rehearsal hall or scene shop,” explains Valerie Rae Smith, chair of the Department of Theatre. For example, in regular master classes, renowned visiting artists teach and mentor students. This fall, theatre students researched, wrote, and performed a healthcare documentary at the Whitaker Center in downtown Harrisburg, followed by a forum discussion with patients, legislators, and health-care professionals (see pages 20–21).

Smith adds that the depth of Messiah’s theatre training leads graduates to careers in acting, directing, and technical production, while the breadth of its liberal arts education launches theatre students’ careers in marketing, publishing, and arts administration.

The program also prepares graduates spiritually. Through performances, in classrooms, and among friends, “Messiah laid a great foundation for my faith,” says Fieger. Today her Christian faith “opens a lot of doors” and, at times, closes doors; but “you can embrace and live your faith no matter what,” she says.

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Bethany HangeTo Serve & To Lead: The Campaign for Student Enrichment at Messiah College
More stage, workshop, and storage space needed for productions


“Studying theatre forces me to engage in the study of so many other things —having to know about a particular time period so I can design a costume, or a certain thought process so I can embody a character,” says senior theatre major Bethany Hange (right).

To continually enrich students, such as Hange, the Department of Theatre has steadily expanded its offerings and, consequently, has outgrown its current facilities. Giving students adequate space to prepare and perform is another of the priorities of To Serve & To Lead: The Campaign for Student Enrichment at Messiah College . A dedicated space for performance, a rehearsal hall, a dance studio, an enlarged scene shop, and more storage space in Climenhaga Fine Arts Center are among the necessities planned for the building’s expansion.

Find out more about the campaign at www.messiah.edu/toserveandtolead.
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