Students who have participated in MC’s past theatre productions can expect to see a new face in the director’s chair this season. Clinton High School instructor and MC theatre adjunct Sarah Hankins will be directing “Will and Whimsy.” The play, written by Alan Haehnel, is a vignette-styled production composed of 16 dramatic sonnets and connected by a narrator. As a result, adaptations of the show can vary from one act plays to full length productions.
Hankins’s drama students–Clinton Arrow Theatre–will be collaborating with MC’s students. Audition and performance dates are still tentative, but Hankins hopes to conduct auditions in the late afternoon on Feb. 28 at Clinton High School, and March 1 on MC’s campus. Actors and actresses should come prepared for a cold reading.
The style of this show is simplistic, referred to as a “trunk show.” Performers will wear jeans and white T-shirts and will pull props and visual aids out of a trunk. They will perform at the Lions Club Park pavilion on the brick streets. Tentative dates are April 21 in the early evening, and April 23 in the afternoon. Admission is free to the public. However, donations are greatly appreciated as a way of funding Hankins’s and her high school students’ “causical classics.” “A portion [of the proceeds] goes to a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts. It changes every year,” Hankins said.
Hankins joined the staff to teach Introduction to Theatre online to fill Dr. Phyllis Seawright’s place, after she made plans to attend the London Semester. After its recent cancellation, Seawright looks forward to collaborating together. “It’s very close to Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23, so the timing is perfect for us to celebrate the Bard of Avon and the return of outdoor theatre in Clinton,” she said.
“Dr. Seawright and I have kept in touch and Dr. Vance was actually my boss at one point in time. He worked in the media portion in the library, and I was the student worker for him,” Hankins said. “Those lines of communication have always been open.” After finishing her Masters in Theatre Education from the University of Houston in 2020, Hankins found herself presented with more possibilities in teaching theatre to older students and was available to accept Seawright’s offer to take over some of her Spring 2022 workload. “It all just happened without anything being forced. It felt natural,” she said.
Besides her other commitments, she serves on the Board of the Brick Street Players of Clinton, a local community theatre group. “She knows how to connect with every actor to bring out their best,” Seawright said. “When Sarah was an undergraduate, she worked on every show we did, in one capacity or another: actor, director, assistant director, costume, hair, makeup, set design, choreography, stage manager … whatever needed to be done.”
For Hankins, theatre is an art that lies close to her heart. “I think my big thing is I want theatre to be accessible to all,” she said. She looks forward to bringing two groups together that she is deeply connected to. “I graduated from Clinton High School and I graduated from Mississippi College–just creating that community experience and that connection … I think that this is everything I look for in what I do and why I do. I get to share what I’m passionate about, and then we get to make community relations.”