Arts graduate study brings hope, but fails to address tough issue

In case you missed it, I wrote an article about a study released by Indiana University regarding arts graduates. The study of 13,600 arts graduates found that 92 percent found some type of employment in their field within one year of graduation. Those surveyed range from theater to architecture graduates.

While the study revealed mostly positive statistics, as it was conducted by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, it ceased to take an important area into consideration —  artists’ pay level and revenue satisfaction. About 30 percent of formal professional artists surveyed indicated that debt, including student loans was a reason for pursuing a different career path.

I interviewed Jamie Buxton, a graduate of University of Central Oklahoma, and David Herendeen, an OCU professor for the article, which examined pursuing an acting/music theater degree in Oklahoma.

To view the full article published in The Oklahoman and Look at OKC, visit


Theater department to perform two R-rated shows

Adult themes and activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexuality-oriented nudity, and drug use. When the phrase “Rated R” is mentioned, thoughts like these may come to mind.

The School of Theatre is producing two rated R shows in March, according to the OCU School of Theatre Web Site. The plays are Lysistrata and The Angelina Project. The shows were given the rating to forewarn audience members.

“When you think of these ratings you think of movies and what makes a movie rating,” said David Herendeen, interim director of opera and music theater at Oklahoma City University. “It just doesn’t translate directly from the movie systems.
“What anybody trying to rate a play is trying to do with these rating systems is warn the public and give them as much as we can as easily as we can. The rating is a short hand that the content is powerful.”

The theater is a facility for education and sometimes the subject matter is tough, Herendeen said.

“I think a rating should make people think ‘Hmm I wonder why it’s rated this way,” and determine whether it’s something they’d feel comfortable with,” he said. “Everybody should go to the theater with a little bit of fore knowledge.
“Just because it’s a show doesn’t mean it’s going to be happy. We do this on purpose. We try to impact our audience with our performance.”

Lysistrata, produced in part with Oklahoma City Repertory Theater, portrays the ‘make love not war’ slogan of the 60’s. Though the play is about abstinence, it could potentially make audience members feel uncomfortable, Herendeen said.

The Angelina Project is rated R due to violence.

“It’s easy to shock people it is easy to make them feel uncomfortable,” he said. “We talk to our students a lot about this.
“You don’t teach anybody by pushing them past their comfort zone but to get to that edge of their comfort zone and earn their trust in a production that is the director’s job. I don’t think we have ever gone past that edge. We do want to warn people who have an edge that might be a little bit more delicate. It’s a buyer beware thing and I think we’re obligated to tell people about it.”

Lysistrata is showing at 8 p.m. on March 5, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on March 6 and at 2 p.m. on March 7 at The Little Freede Theater at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave. Click here or call 405-848-3761 for ticket information.

The Angelina Project is showing at 8 p.m. March 26, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 27, at 2 p.m. March 28, at 8 p.m. on April 9, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on April 10, and at 2 p.m. on April 11 at the Burg Theater in Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 405-848-3761.