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School of Theatre Becomes First in America to Join World Theatre Education Alliance

World Theatre Education Alliance map

The Oklahoma City University School of Theatre is the first and only American school to become a member of the World Theatre Education Alliance based in Beijing, China.

Dean Mark Parker, acting professor Lance Marsh and eight OCU theatre students attended the alliance’s International Theatre Festival last month at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. In keeping with the theme of “Shakespeare’s Comedies,” OCU students performed a review of some of the funniest scenes and monologues from numerous Shakespeare plays. Marsh directed “Clowns, Lovers, and Women in Pants” to explore a variety of roles.

“Being asked to create a performance from ‘Shakespeare’s Comedies’ is a wide and open-ended challenge, and left us with more questions than answers at first, the primary one being, ‘Which comedy shall we focus on,’” Marsh said. “In the end, we got greedy and decided to do some of the best bits from all of them.”

Leading theatre schools from Japan, Korea, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, England, China, Greece, Bulgaria, Spain and Poland are alliance members. Parker said that in addition to the performance and masterclass opportunities, the festival served as an excellent networking opportunity for students.

“They have created bonds with theatre peers all around the world,” he said. “There is no telling where those connections will lead over the course of their careers.”

Parker and Marsh plan to return in 2020 for the alliance’s President’s Meeting and plan to take another group of students in 2021 to the next International Theatre Festival performance. Parker noted that these activities are part of a broader OCU School of Theatre international experience. In the last 18 months, students have also studied abroad for a semester or for short courses, presented performances or attended conferences in Prague, Paris, England and Scotland. They also will be studying and performing in Cyprus this summer.