Laurel Koerner is in her fourth year as Tabor College theater director, and she has made some significant changes to the theater department.
One of those is Brave New Works, a workshop that allows Tabor students to expand on their creative abilities.
“It is an opportunity for students across the campus to get together and have 24 hours to create original works,” Koerner said.
Works students created for the event included a monologue, a spoken word performance piece, composed music, and celebrity impressions. Two students also performed an original scene about majoring in mathematics.
Koerner created the event to expand Tabor students’ awareness of what constitutes live performance and to increase confidence.
“I was looking for an opportunity to give students a platform to perform who maybe didn’t have the time to commit to being in a full length theater production,” Koerner said. “When you get together with a group of creative people, it can turn into something big.”
Koerner spent three years in Los Angeles getting a masters of fine arts in acting from the California Institute of the Arts. After that, she lived near Dallas, and traveled back and forth between Dallas and Los Angeles for acting.
However, she knew she wanted to eventually teach those on stage.
“I knew I wanted to be at a small Christian college and help develop a program and get to direct shows from the perspective of training the actors,” Koerner said. “Tabor has offered me the opportunity to really grow with the program, to be a part of the new center of the arts, to design a new major, and to think about how we can expand a program for students in the arts.”
Koerner has expanded the program by production aspects of theater as well.
“There’s a long tradition of theater at Tabor and it’s definitely part of the history and the culture,” Koerner said, “so we’re building on this rich tradition and shifting focus of it toward production as an extension of the educational system programming.”
Koerner is excited for this year’s homecoming performance of “The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare, as it is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
“There are Shakespeare productions happening all across the globe so it’s exciting to be participating in something so global and to bring Shakespeare back to Tabor’s campus after a long hiatus,” Koerner said.
As director, Koerner also is working toward getting Tabor students prepared for professional careers in theater.
“They will be prepared to enter the profession and that’s a new perspective,” Koerner said. “We’re borrowing a lot from what we’ve seen succeed in other college and university programs and what we know about the industry to design a program that puts the students’ education first.”