Theatre program receives grant to host traveling show for kids

Judas Iscariot was played by Baxter Francis in the theatre department's most recent production. Members of Alpha Psi Omega star in, promote and help organize productions. 
Annie Goodman/ The Lion's Roar 

The university’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega has received an inaugural grant from the APO National Office.

 “This is the first year they offered this grant,” said James Winter, associate professor of acting and directing and faculty advisor for Alpha Psi Omega. “It’s called the Frankie Day Chapter Advancement Grant. It’s named after a past president of the national organization. It’s to help chapters like our chapter either produce work or enhance whatever they’re doing on campuses and in communities.”

This grant will be used to fund their touring production of “The Jungle Book.”




“We applied for it, and we got the first ever one,” said Winter. “We got a $1,000 grant from the national office to help us produce a touring production. Every spring, Alpha Psi Omega does an all-ages show, something for parents and children alike, that we take on tour usually just somewhere along the I-12 corridor. We’ll do shows in Baton Rouge, Covington, Bogalusa, Hammond.”

APO usually tours every year but due to the flooding last year, they will be postponing it to next spring.

“This would have been our fifth straight year, but with the flooding and whatnot, a lot of the communities we normally go to were not prepared to host us this spring,” said Winter. “This grant will go toward next spring. We’re going to do a brand new version of ‘The Jungle Book’ world premiere written by Tommy Jamerson, who is a professional playwright in the New York, New Jersey area. He’s writing an all new version of ‘The Jungle Book’ that we’re going to premiere next spring and take on tour.”

Winter is grateful for the money and recognition of the university’s chapter.

“There’s less and less money out there right now for the arts or educational arts programs,” said Winter. “So any time when a group like our chapter of Alpha Psi Omega can get extra money to aid their cause, it’s a big deal because there just isn’t a lot of money out there. I think, more importantly, it’s personally important because it’s a national organization recognizing our campus and the achievements of our students here at Southeastern in little ol’ Hammond, Louisiana.”

APO does these touring shows as a way to give back to the community.

“In this case, it’s money that goes towards something that gives something back,” said Winter. “That has sort of always been our goal to take these shows to towns where maybe a lot of the kids don’t get to see a lot of live theatre. We always make it very affordable so that the whole family can come, and it’s not gonna break the bank. It’s nice to get some start-up funds to help us to do something like that because it takes money to put on a play, its expensive. At its cheapest, it’ll cost us a few thousand dollars to do these shows. That grant won’t even cover all of our expenses, but it’ll help.”

Winter is excited and shocked to have received this grant.

“I’m blown away,” said Winter. “I didn’t think we’d get it. Honestly, it was one of those things where I saw the ad in the Alpha Psi Omega magazine, and I was like, ‘You guys want to apply for this? It can’t hurt,’ and we did. I couldn’t believe it when a month later they contacted us, and they said we had won. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of active APO chapters all over the country. I can’t believe we won that grant. I’m just kind of shocked.”