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APSU, CHS collaborate in production of "Children of a Lesser God"

January 14, 2003

For the first time ever Austin Peay and Clarksville High School will collaborate on a theatrical performance that targets a new audience, the hearing impaired.

Barbara Wesner, director of theatre arts at Clarksville High School, will be guest director of Children of a Lesser God, which will be performed at Austin Peay by APSU and CHS students. The play will run from Feb. 26-March 2.
January 14, 2003

For the first time ever Austin Peay and Clarksville High School will collaborate on a theatrical performance that targets a new audience, the hearing impaired.

Barbara Wesner, director of theatre arts at Clarksville High School, will be guest director of “Children of a Lesser God,” which will be performed at Austin Peay by APSU and CHS students. The play will run from Feb. 26-March 2.

The production, which won Best Play on Broadway, takes place at a school for the hearing impaired. Two worlds collide as an instructor at the school falls in love with one of his students and tries to bring her into his “hearing” world.

“The play has a powerful message about what is ‘normal' and to whom,” said David Wesner, assistant professor of theatre at Austin Peay. “Almost all of the actors' lines will be ‘signed', so it will be a wonderful opportunity to reach out to an audience we normally can't reach.”

Betty Hartlage, a worker with disability services at Austin Peay, will be on hand at every rehearsal to assist the student actors in learning American Sign-Language (ASL).

In addition, special seating and performances will be arranged for the hearing impaired, and a translator will sign for them throughout the performance.

“This collaboration gives the high school students a tremendous opportunity to work with kids who have had three to four more years experience, it gives them exposure to a college environment and it gives them an idea of where kids at this age are going with their careers,” says Wesner who has worked as a technical director at CHS for the last eight years.

In addition to acting, high school students will “shadow” APSU students in the areas of stage managing, house managing, costume and scenery design, lighting, sound and props.
The collaboration also could be a recruitment tool. "Twenty-five to 30 CHS students will have the opportunity to see Austin Peay at its best!” says Wesner.

Barbara Wesner has been the director of theatre arts at Clarksville High School since 1995. She has directed professionally in New York City and brings to the stage extensive knowledge of professional theatre. Her more notable productions include “Steel Magnolias,” “Noises Off” and “Piece of My Heart.”

“We haven't had someone with this kind of talent and experience in a long time,” says Wesner. “Everything she puts on is at a college level.”

The CHS students who will appear in the production are Bryan Boutell, Carrye Beth Murray, Jamie Farmer, Jasey Burnett, Charlotte Engel and Rebecca Forehand.

Students from Austin Peay who will appear in the production are Katie Hill, Dale Krupla, Jeremy Maxwell, Estelle Hatcher, Gresham Hougland, Sara Hoyal, Jennifer Dumas, Nick Ernsberger and Mary Beth Smith.

For more information, telephone the department of communication and theatre at 7378 or the ticket box at 7379 one week before the performance.