West Virginia State Opens Experimental Theatre for Student Productions

Contact: Dr. Donna M. Simon
(304) 766-3363

April 29, 2013

West Virginia State Opens Experimental Theatre for Student Productions

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Theatre students at West Virginia State University (WVSU) now have a new venue for small-scale productions and educational opportunities.

The David Stephen Skeen Black Box Theatre opened in March and provides a safe, well-equipped place to explore and test the boundaries of theatre with no creative restrictions.

Designed with a minimalist d├ęcor, using black walls and small black boxes as set pieces, the experimental space was made possible through a gift from Donna L. Skeen to honor the memory of her late husband, David Stephen Skeen, a member of State’s class of 1970.
“I see it as an avenue to get West Virginia State University out in the community,” said Skeen, whose daughter, Jenna, is a communications major at WVSU. “It will also give students a way to express themselves and be able to enjoy themselves in college.”

The space is already being used for productions.

A grand opening was held recently featuring short plays written, produced and performed entirely by students.
“It is a great opportunity to have a space of our own to explore and create innovative theatre experiences,” said Scotty White, a WVSU communications major and playwright.

White wrote the plays performed during the opening ceremony.

“Whether students ever pursue professional theatre, the experience itself is a lesson in collaboration, cooperation, self-examination and self-expression,” said Susan Marrash-Minnerly, WVSU theatre professor. “From classic Aristotle to the contemporary David Mamet, theatre has been described as an experience in examining the human condition.”

The David Stephen Skeen Theatre is located in the Cole Complex on West Virginia State University’s Institute campus.

For more information, contact Susan Marrash-Minnerly at (304) 766-5110 or minnerly@wvstateu.edu.
West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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