Maxwell reaches dramatic milestone

Maxwell reaches dramatic milestone

The October 20-22 production of "The Boys Next Door" marks a profound milestone for professor and director Dr. Brian Maxwell. After over 25 years of leading two plays a year, he will celebrate 50 productions on the BBC stage.

Dr. Maxwell says he doesn't feel much different than when he started, and he certainly doesn't feel 25 years older.BBC&S

"I love what I do and I am grateful I get to do it," Dr. Maxwell said. "Every year, God works on me and I am changing and growing. I'm a better person than I was 25 years ago, but I don't feel any older."

Although he was initially hired to teach Speech Communications, he was soon asked to undertake the production of a play. "A Man Called Peter" was the first production he selected in 1987.

Fifty productions
Well-known titles have been joined by new and adapted stories over the years, bringing crowds of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members to the Phelps Student Center twice annually, in the fall and spring.

Productions include dramas, comedies, and musicals. They range from classical theatre like "A Midsummer Night's Dream," to more contemporary dramas like "The Women of Lockerbie," to lively musicals such as "The Sound of Music."

Participation in a play directed by Dr. Maxwell means hard work, late nights, and an experience students take with them long after the curtain falls on the their last performance.

"Students will hopefully take away a deeper sense of themselves, more confidence, and a greater understanding of theatre and the power of the performed word," Dr. Maxwell said. "I want my students to have a love for it, and I want them to understand that if God has made you to do something, when you do it - He smiles."

Special Memories
Among his most memorable productions was 2007's "And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" by James Still, a unique retelling of the holocaust experience by contemporaries of Anne Frank. Opening night featured a forum discussion with a holocaust survivor.

During the summer of 2008, Dr. Maxwell was invited to present a workshop, "Teaching the Holocaust through Theatre and Collaboration," at the 6th Annual International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem in Israel.

"I learned a lot from that experience," he said. "Speaking at the conference and spending two weeks in Israel, it was an extraordinary opportunity."

View a complete list of past BBC productions here.

BBC&SGuiding and Inspiring
It may seem obvious to his students, or to anyone who knows Dr. Maxwell, that he was made to do what he is doing - directing, performing, guiding, and inspiring. But this niche that seems so natural now was not quickly found. It wasn't until he was in his college years he was pointed in the direction of theatre and dramatic ministry.

"I grew up in a small farming community, I am the first to graduate from college," he said. "I remember as a kid I loved watching television, but I wasn't confident enough to try out for any plays in school. I finally went to Cornerstone University and a friend of mine said 'you should be taking speech and theatre.' Then I took my first drama class, and that was it."

Over the years, his focus has shifted a little from the final product to the process and experience of the students involved.

"I think I am learning to enjoy the process more," he said. "I think I see it is more important. I am learning, too, that not everyone is going to like the plays I choose. A couple years ago I took a risk with "Women of Lockerbie," but it was a play I wanted to investigate. I wanted to experience that."

Long-Term Impact
Students who have participated in theatre at BBC have had unique opportunities past graduation to continue with their passion for drama. Involvements include professional theater, acceptance into Ph.D. programs, and even starting a theater production company.

Jonathan Strayer and his wife, Rachel, are 2003 graduates and are the founders of Ghostlight Productions, a small theatre production company based in Clarks Summit, PA.

"My involvement with Dr. Maxwell changed everything," Jonathan said. "God used him to add focus to my life. He encouraged me to go to graduate school, and he encouraged me to pursue theatre in service to God - and that is what I am doing."

Hannah Sayre, a senior Communications major, plans to teach theatre. She wants to affect others in the same way she has been impacted by theatre at BBC.

"After each production I have come away with something different," she said. "I have learned it is safe to feel deeply and let people see it. I have also learned how to work as a team to produce something beautiful, working together and seeing how we are each gifted in a different area."

Whether through directly touching the lives of students, ministering to community members, or the extended impact of graduates, Dr. Maxwell and his work at BBC have reached thousands of lives in the 25 years he has served.

Learn more about the Communications program here.

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Posted on: 10/13/2011 4:32:22 PM

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