On March 8, Lubbock Christian University Theater headed to Abilene, Texas for the annual Christian University Theater Festival (CUTF). Joining them this year was Howard Payne, Wayland Baptist, McMurry, Abilene Christian, and Hardin Simmons Universities. CUTF was hosted by Hardin Simmons. Lubbock Christian University performed ‘The Good Doctor’ by Neil Simon.
History of the Christian University Theater Festival
The Christian University Theater Festival began in March of 1997. Larry Wheeler of Hardin Simmons, Marti Runnels of Wayland Baptist, and representatives from other surrounding universities joined together to create the Baptist University Theater Festival. The following year the name was changed to Christian University Theater Festival. Lubbock Christian University first attended CUTF in the spring of 1999.
Don Williams, Professor of Communications and Fine Arts, Theater Education, shared how LCU became involved. “It started as a Baptist university coalition and because of my friendship on the Texas Educational Theater Organization with Marti Runnels, Larry Wheeler and a friend who was a teacher at Baylor. I had three good friends at Baptist universities. I said to Marti, ‘You know we might be interested. Would you guys be open to having us?’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah sure.’ At the time we started our involvement, our first trip was to Hardin Simmons, then Wayland, then Howard Payne. It has rotated between those three.”
What is Christian University Theater Festival?
Christian University Theater Festival is a festival where schools come to perform their spring shows. The goal is to promote unity between Christians who participate in the arts and theater. While this is not a formal competition, there is an individual who critiques each play and awards are handed out at the end. Shows can range from one-act to full-length plays.
Elyssa Reaves, a senior Theater major from Allen, Texas explained, “the most important part about it is the fellowship that you get. You get to meet people that are in your profession that also love and want to put God in everything they do and give God the glory which is really hard in a typical secular job industry. In theater, it is really hard to be a Christian and an actor at the same time. Being able to see that there are other people out there that are doing the same things you are doing, and other people that are being successful, and being able to network with that… it gives you hope and it gives you the inspiration to know that you can do this.”
Clayton Henriksen, a senior Theater Education major from Overland Park, Kansas said, “it’s a great chance to get away from what you’re used to. Three days off class is nice too. You gain experience by having to set your show up quickly. It’s a lot of pressure, but the good kind. You also get the chance to learn by seeing what other groups are doing. I’m glad I’ve gotten to go.”
Chantz Cochran, a junior Theater Education major from Decatur, Texas said, “I had such an amazing time! I got to see some great performances as well as see friends from other schools and make new ones. It’s a fantastic experience that I look forward to every year.”
Stephen Elwell, a sophomore Accounting major from Lubbock, Texas said, “CUTF was a super fun experience for me. This was my first year, so I wasn’t sure what to expect; but being able to see all the other schools’ shows was incredible. Seeing different acting and directing styles was fun and made me consider experimenting in the future when it came to my acting. The three days flew by and I was sad to leave. It was an incredible experience and I really hope I get to go again next year.”
If you are interested in attending CUTF in the spring of 2021 be on the lookout for auditions in December of 2020. https://chaplink.lcu.edu