Published on February 6, 2019 by Ashley Smith  

Five Samford Theatre for Youth students participated in a week-long artist-in-residence program in Moundville, Alabama thanks to the generous support of Samford alumnus Law Lamar and an enthusiastic Moundville school system.  

The pilot program, spearheaded by junior Abby-Shelton Storey, aimed to introduce students to the creative and collaborative nature of theatre and open the door to future community engagement.

 “Seeing students who have never been exposed to any kind of theatre coming out of their shells was really inspiring and reminded me why I chose this major,” she said.

Storey along with senior John Perine, and sophomores Chloe Tower, Nicholas DiPrima, Anna Lynn Starr worked with the students to discover theatre through exercises of imaginative play and dramatic arts. One of the main goals of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth curriculum is to interact in a meaningful way with students in underserved populations. 

Hale County Middle School Assistant Principal Katie Andoes said the experience allowed students the opportunity to delve into a world they would normally not be a part of. While the students do not have a theatre program at the school, they will have the option to enroll in a county wide program as high school students. She hopes that students’ interest in theatre will be sparked through this introduction.

“We got to see a side of these students that we do not normally see and we are so excited to create this bond with Samford University,” Andoes said. “We already have students asking to participate next year!” 

The residency inspired and built confidence not only in the Moundville students but also in Samford students’ ability to teach. 

 “The whole reason I do theatre for youth is to inspire students to express themselves and find a place of belonging, and to see that happen with the students in Moundville was so rewarding,” Tower said.

Samford Arts donor Law Lamar, who underwrote the residency, attended the culminating performance in Moundville and characterized the importance of this project, “By college students from Birmingham coming to Moundville, it shows that they cared for young people they didn't even know, and that is genuine love. I think the Samford students actually felt like they were taking the talents God gave them and using them in a small way to honor God.”

Schools interested in learning more about this program and how our teaching artists could bring theatre arts to students, contact Laura Byland, professor and director of Theatre for Youth,

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.