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Fine Arts programs in semifinals

Dr. Naler was recently honored as a TAP semifinalist. Photo: Esther John

Members of the theatre arts faculty advanced to the semifinals of the American Prize (TAP), a national competition founded in 2009 to recognize artists from the performing arts.

Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, has been submitting videos of BJU’s dramatic productions to the  American Prize for the past several years.

Lawson was entered this year into the competitions for best University/College Stage Director and  best Opera Company.

This year BJU advanced to semifinals in each category with the opera Il Trovatore. The award’s finalists have yet to be announced.

TAP recognizes artists involved in schools, churches, and community and professional organizations.

Lawson encourages other faculty members to involve themselves in the awards competitions each year.

Dr. Erin Naler, theatre arts faculty and an actress herself, is also a semifinalist in TAP this year in the Stage Directors category.

Last spring, she directed a production of Trip to Bountiful (by Horton Foote), starring the now-retired faculty member Coretta Grass.

According to Naler, Mr. Ron Pyle encouraged her to enter the competition and Lawson has kept her updated on the status of her production in the competition.

Naler said entered her play for the opportunity to gain recognition for Mrs. Grass, herself and the BJU fine arts program.

TAP has distinguished panels of judges—ranging from opera singers to university professors – for the different musical and non-musical categories.

Contestants must submit an online video of the performance they were involved in during the spring and then wait for results that begin to come out the next spring.

Winners get a small cash award, critiques from the judges and are able to use their wins to promote their organizations. TAP also recognizes winners on their website and social media.

Lawson is always watching for opportunities to raise awareness about the quality of BJU’s productions.

“I think the students need to see those of us on the faculty and administration practicing their art,” Lawson said. “Almost everything that we entered [last year] got something.”

Lawson said the theatre arts faculty hopes to honor the Lord through competing in the competition.

“[A competition like TAP] gives validation that what we’re doing does have value, and of course we’re doing it for the glory of the Lord but it’s nice to honor Him with the competitions and awards we’re getting,” Lawson said.

The faculty now await the announcement of the finalists and award winners.