April 14, 2022 at 9:15am
Dane Lisser

Theatre students share insights into acting, costume design and set building

Students from Millikin University's School of Theatre & Dance, who took part in the production of "Romeo and Juliet" April 8-10, paid a visit to Eisenhower High School in Decatur [Ill.] on April 12 to not only put on a production but to share insights into costume design, set building and design, and vocations involved in the theatre.

Maya Saib, a sophomore musical theatre major from Raleigh, N.C., was on stage playing various roles in the famous William Shakespeare play. As a swing, she and the other actors have to know the parts of several characters just in case the lead actors can't perform.

With all of the knowledge they have about "Romeo and Juliet," the actors do not get to perform their parts. "So this is really exciting for us," Saib said in an interview with the Herald & Review.

Four Millikin students were in the auditorium throughout the day at Eisenhower High School where approximately 20 classes, including theatre, creative writing and English, watched short segments of the play.

The Millikin students were eager to be a part of the classroom. "We haven't really gotten to perform very much, because we're swings, or understudying all the roles," Saib said.

Millikin University School of Theatre & Dance

From left to right: Millikin students Ethan Cerros and Ramsey Folkerts (photo courtesy of the Herald & Review, Clay Jackson)

The students are also members of Shakespeare Corrected, a volunteer-based arts program offered at the Decatur Correctional Center in Decatur. The current model of the nine-month program is to build skills through monologues and discussion in the fall and then produce a full-scale Shakespeare play in the spring. Although cut down from the original versions, the productions are about 90 minutes long and then performed for friends, family and other inmates.

The high school students had the opportunity to ask questions about careers in the theatre and acting industry, "and see that passion that these young people can bring to them," said Eisenhower English teacher Ann Denoyer.

Denoyer brought her class to the performance so the students could learn firsthand about the arts she is teaching.

Denoyer's English classes have been studying "Romeo and Juliet" as well as sonnets and Elizabethan dramas. Other English classes have studied creative writing and other works by William Shakespeare, such as "Macbeth."

"The instructors want their classes to experience another form of art," Denoyer said. "A lot of these kids do not get to see actual performances."