Theatre department targets younger audience

Story by Brianna WillisStaff writer

“Anansi the Spider” just ended its stay here at Murray on Oct. 16. Lissa Graham-Schneider, stage director, said she hopes audience members left feeling inspired.

“I hope the kids who saw Anansi came away with the idea that being you is enough,” she said. “I hope every kid who saw the show knows that deeds don’t have to be overblown to be meaningful.”

The plot centered around Anansi, a trickster spider who angers the god of sky. He then falls in love with Aso, the god’s daughter. She isn’t quite sure if she should trust him, and sends Anansi on a quest. Children in a range of ages from toddlers to middle school age were in attendance. A few Murray State students were there as well.

While students may have missed their opportunity to see “Anansi the Spider” the theatre department has more shows coming up throughout the year, including “Curtains,” a musical. Graham-Schneider said seeing live performances are beneficial for students.

“Story is an important part of human being’s lives,” she said. “It benefits the soul and the mind.”

By seeing a live theater performance such as a play or musical, audience members can relieve stress and engage in a very human experience, she said.

Graham-Schneider can attest to the benefit in participating in shows and theater classes, if someone is a theater lover like herself. She said she believed that people could not make any money in a career in theater, but this belief changed after she took a college theater course.

“I switched majors, and have been working consistently ever since,” she said.

She had always loved theater and while she does not suggest everyone change their major and pursue theater, she said she hopes this does not deter students from at least auditioning for a show of their interest.

“We cast and include all majors,” she said. “If you love theater we want you to participate no matter your major or minor.”

By being involved in theater, she said, it will help children succeed in other areas of their life such as school.

“Getting kids involved and interested keeps their imaginations active and motivates them to do well in school,” Graham-Schneider said.

While Graham-Schneider said she enjoyed directing Anansi, and enjoyed getting the kids involved in the production and performance, she does not just do children’s performances.

This February she will be directing “The Glass Menagerie.” Graham-Schneider said she has been able to direct many of her favorite shows, something she is thankful for. She hopes students will get involved and said that the Murray State theatre department embraces all people.

“The Murray State Department of Theatre is, without a doubt, the nicest and most inclusive group of people you could ever hope to meet,” she said.