Main Stage Theatre Delves Into a Small Town Life, Characters
The cast of characters for the College of Southern Maryland's fall production of “Greater Tuna,” numbers more than 20 but the cast list includes only two names. Keith Hight, CSM theater technical director and associate professor, and Robert Norman, CSM assistant technical director, make up the two-man show that promises a hilarious wild ride through the fictional town of Tuna, Texas.
CSM's Main Stage Theatre production of “Greater Tuna,” written by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, is a satirical play that comments on small-town, Southern life and follows the morals of residents Arles Struvie, Thurston Wheelis, Aunt Pearl, Petey Fisk, Phineas Blye and Rev. Spikes. Staying true to the play's original production, Hight of King George, Va., and Norman of Alexandria, Va., transform into multiple characters over the course of the play.
Hight was introduced to theater while tagging along with his father, a music director for several theaters. “I fell in love with doing theater on both the acting and directing side and although there have been some brief pauses in pursuing this field, for the most part I've done theater since I was a kid,” he said.
“I have been blessed to work with some of the greatest and most talented people in the world. I grew up learning from Tom Savini, Leonard McLeod, Pat Reese, George Cohen, Bob Luke, to name a few, at Fayetteville Little Theatre [now Cape Fear Regional Theatre] and the Ft. Bragg Playhouse. [Other actors and I] never realized they were famous, we followed them around and studied them always trying to get better,” said Hight.
“Theater is constantly changing, it is never the same each day-but the show still starts on time and ends on time. Getting students to repeat the same thing over and over for every different audience is challenging, still, I've had the pleasure of working with some great and talented people,” Hight said.
Hight earned a Master of Fine Arts, Theatre Pedagogy, from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Education, Curriculum and the Arts from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. He earned a bachelor's degree in dramatic literature and performance from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Hight has taught theater courses for more than 20 years and in the past has served as technical director at King's Dominion and Campbell University. He has served as the technical director at CSM since 2009.
Norman got his start in acting in his high school theater's production of Agatha Christie's “Mousetrap.” He earned a bachelor's degree in theatrical management from University of North Carolina Asheville and has worked as a technical director in several theaters on the East Coast since 2010. He has also worked on four theater remodels including The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theatre on Sanibel Island, Fla. He has served as the assistant technical director at CSM since 2012.
“Greater Tuna” begins at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 17 and Sept. 24; at 8 p.m., Sept. 18, 19 and 25; and at 2 p.m., Sept. 26. All performances will be on the La Plata Campus, Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for military, seniors and youth.
CSM Main Stage Theatre: “Greater Tuna.” 7:30 p.m., Sept. 17; 8 p.m., Sept 18-19. College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Fine Arts (FA) Building, Theatre, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. Set in the fictitious west Texas town of Tuna in the early 1980s, this play skewers a multitude of uptight, narrow-mined, self-righteous townspeople-performed by two actors donning costume after costume, persona after persona. $15 adults, $12 military/seniors/youth. email@example.com, 301-934-7828, www.csmd.edu/Arts.
CSM Main Stage Theatre: “Greater Tuna.” 7:30 p.m., Sept 24; 8 p.m., Sept. 25; 2 p.m., Sept. 26. College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus, Fine Arts (FA) Building, Theatre, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. Set in the fictitious west Texas town of Tuna in the early 1980s, this play skewers a multitude of uptight, narrow-mined, self-righteous townspeople-performed by two actors donning costume after costume, persona after persona. $15 adults, $12 military/seniors/youth. firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-934-7828, www.csmd.edu/Arts.
Community College Theater Students Thrive by Wearing Many Hats
Students who start their theatrical careers at CSM save thousands in tuition while gaining experience in all aspects of production in front of, and behind, the curtain, according to Keith Hight, CSM Theater technical director and associate professor. “We do a lot of shows in a year which prepare our students beyond acting allowing the spotlight to shine more brightly on them when they transfer to four-year schools. They have been exposed to everything-not just tech or acting,” said Hight. “One show you are on stage as an actor and the next you are running lights or sound and are able to design.”
Recent theater graduates transferred to London School of Design, University of North Carolina Greensboro, University of Southern Indiana and Wilkes University in Pennsylvania.
“Several students are working on television shows or are in movies,” said Hight. “Our actors are auditioning and getting jobs.”
“We have students who spent their summer breaks working in professional theater locally and across the country. We have universities and colleges from abroad who want to work with us and partner with us to do shows,” said Hight.
Hight says that theater students can “learn it all here, but without debt.”
“Not including books and fees, students can earn a two-year associate degree in theater and dance for just over $7,000, transfer and have saved thousands over students who start at a four-year college or university,” said Hight.