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2019 News Charlie Brown
February 25, 2019 : OHIO Chillicothe Theater Program reflects on their recent performance


In December of 2018, the Ohio University Theater Program hosted their highly successful production of A Charlie Brown Christmas for the community of Chillicothe.


Lance Mekeel, director of the OHIO Chillicothe theater program, commented on the success of the program and highlighted the efforts of the students involved. “It was by far the most successful production of the Theater Program in the four years I’ve been directing the Program. We brought more people to campus who hadn’t been aware of our program and were able to provide a holiday activity for many families to enjoy. I’m proud of the partnership we made with Kroger to provide refreshments for the run of the show. I’m most proud of how our cast and crew took ownership of the production, from putting in extra time to assist with preparing the set, lights, costumes, and properties, to baking cookies and having their families bake cookies for our audiences. I believe this production sets a great precedent for the kind of experience we can offer to our community on a regular basis.”


Along with his comments on the production, Mekeel also expressed his view of the importance of the theater experience. “Being a part of the Theater Program benefits students in innumerable ways. First, the Theater Program is co-curricular, so it’s not even that students are finding an activity to do in their spare time, but participating in the production of plays here on campus is part of the rigorous theatre training—often done as a class or as fulfilling a requirement for a class—I offer on this campus in order to prepare students to complete a theatre degree on Athens campus or at another university. My focus in working with students in the Program is to model collaboration in which the students take ownership of many facets of the physical production of our performances.”


Mekeel also stated, “I work with students not only as actors, but as directors, stage managers, designers, light/sound board operators, stage hands, etc., giving them opportunities both in getting a sense of what it’s like to work in production capacities in professional theatre, but also to build skills in teamwork and leadership, critical and creative thinking, as well as in communication and organization. I also seek to build citizens of the world. As I work with students, I strive to help them build cultural competencies, or skills in how to engage people from a position of respecting and celebrating legitimate difference (be it in racial/sex/socioeconomic/religious identities) and also understanding that we’re all humans and so we should care for all. “


Following the production, Mekeel took three of his students to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region II Festival in New Jersey. Jensyn Cousins, Carly McCloy and Marisa Newland all participated in Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions, where they competed against other students and received feedback from several theater professors. The students also attended several workshops and productions at the event. Mekeel himself also got involved, as he directed a ten-minute play alongside a student playwright throughout the five-day festival.


Moving forward, the OHIO Chillicothe Theater Program is currently working on some productions to present later in the year. Promotions for upcoming productions will be posted soon for those interested in attending.