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French student is "The Elephant Man" at Lindenwood University

Senior Nicolas Bourgeais and Professor Marsha Parker talk about "The Elephant Man," on stage Oct. 7 and 8 at Lindenwood. The play is Nicolas' senior project to achieve his bachelor's in fine arts from the Belleville university.
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Senior Nicolas Bourgeais and Professor Marsha Parker talk about "The Elephant Man," on stage Oct. 7 and 8 at Lindenwood. The play is Nicolas' senior project to achieve his bachelor's in fine arts from the Belleville university.

Looking for a fun, interesting, inexpensive — or even free — night out?

Check out the speakers, performers and plays coming to McKendree University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Belleville’s Lindenwood University campus.

Consider watching the Russian National Ballet glide across the stage at McKendree.

Or expand your world view by listening to a former diplomat to Nigeria speak on “U.S. Policy Toward Africa” at Lindenwood.

Maybe you like the Native American flute. Then Autumn’s Child at SIUE is a must-see.

Grant Andree, director of the SIUE Arts & Issues series, is excited about a couple of pros —Juan Williams and Cal Thomas — talking politics on Oct. 11.

“With the election coming up ... we’re bringing in a couple of speakers who are going to speak about where is the country going,” he said.

SIUE’s focus is to further students’ education, but also to recruit new students and foster relations between the university, its alumni and the community.

Ideas come from Grant’s list of professional contacts across his 20-plus-year career in the performing arts and from folks on campus. He “builds a season” by taking suggestions from any and all.

A lot of these shows come about because someone had a great idea.

Grant Ambree, director of the SIUE Arts & Issues series

“We’re hitting a lot of buttons trying to make things happen,” said Grant, 61, of Edwardsville.

Some of those buttons include working with other departments. Theater and dance students are interested in performances, but chemistry and physics departments have input, too.

“We like to do (shows) where it helps multiple departments and us,” said Grant.

University archivist Steve Kerber suggested the film “Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture” that will play in February.

“(He) mentioned this film and had some of us brought over to look at it,” said Grant.

Grant said the movie is about the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, who inspired Frank Lloyd Wright. According to www.IMDb.com, Sullivan was at the top of his profession in 1890, but “a series of setbacks plunged him into destitute obscurity from which he never recovered.”

“A lot of these shows come about because someone had a great idea,” Grant said.

McKendree University

McKendree’s Peter Palermo sees potential speakers and performances in person. He attends regional conference every year, and a national conference every other year. Performers give “their very best 15 minutes” to Peter and others who represent venues across the country.

It’s a great deal of fun for Peter, director of The Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, who strikes performance deals with agents.

That’s how he got The Four Freshmen there Oct. 14 for homecoming. Hope you didn’t want to attend — it’s sold out.

“I was really impressed with their performance,” he said. “They had some name recognition ... with some really great talent. I knew it was a great match for us.”

The quartet, founded in the barbershop tradition, blends harmonic jazz arrangements with the big band vocal group sounds of The Modernaires, The Pied Pipers and The Mel-Tones.

It took some negotiating to get the group for the homecoming date.

“One of my bargaining chips (was) removed” with the need for a specific date, Peter said. “But everything is negotiable, whether we do hotel rooms, travel, instruments they need to use that must be rented.

“I give a little big here, they give a little bit there ... like buying a house,” he said.

Students can see any performance for free. They just have to go to the box office for a ticket.

For others, ticket prices range from $5 for La Vent du Nord, a progressive folk group from Quebec, to $22 for studio musicians performing Led Zeppelin music. It’s free to see author Linda Greenlaw who writes about maritime themes, but it costs $10 for “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert.

The smaller venue — 488 seats — means that ticket prices usually cover no more than 50 percent of the performance’s cost, even though the university covers “a huge portion of (The Hett’s) operating costs.”

Peter said if he mails letters seeking donations, he might receive $25, but sponsors and donors provide “in the thousands of dollars, for sure.”

“Fundraising is about putting together the people with the desire to help ... with the right opportunity,” Peter said. “Philanthropy for a lot of people is an important part of their identity.”

Lindenwood University

At Lindenwood University in Belleville, a committee plans the speaker series.

Renee Porter, Belleville Campus provost and professor, is one of four representatives on that committee; another 10 are from the school’s St. Charles campus.

”It seems to be working,” she said of the committee system. Members submit potential speakers, then review suggestions as a group and vote on those that best aligns with the school’s mission.

Robin Sanders, former U.S. diplomat to Nigeria, will be at Lindenwood Oct. 12 to talk about “U.S. Policy Toward Africa: Why It Is Important.”

A group of social sciences students want to be part of the experience with Sanders, which often includes a small dinner before the event, Porter said.

”So that’s one we’re looking forward to, because it’s sparked some interest in the student groups.”

Theater professor Marsha Parker plans performances of student plays. Lindenwood’s goal isn’t necessarily to fill seats, but to provide a showcase for the few students who make up the Bachelors of Fine Arts program. The school has eight students majoring in acting.

“We try to find a role that is challenging and that will stretch them beyond a traditional musical drama or a traditional musical comedy,” said Marsha.

“The Elephant Man,” is on stage Friday and Saturday at Lindenwood’s Auditorium. French student Nicolas Bourgeais has some challenges in the role of John Merrick who has physical deformities and speech difficulties.

“With Elephant Man, we’ve scheduled one of our matinees on a Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., specially designed for faculty to bring their classes,” Marsha said. “Business administration, biology, history, psychology — there really aren’t very many areas that make up a liberal arts curriculum that aren’t impacted by this.”

Here is a list of upcoming events at Lindenwood University in Belleville, McKendree University in Lebanon and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

October

7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 — Principia College, Erik Weihenmayer of No Barriers, Erik is an American athlete, adventurer, author, activist and motivational speaker, and the only blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He did that on May 25, 2001.

7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 and 8 – Lindenwood. “Elephant Man,” dramatization of the last few years in the life of Joseph Merrick, who had physical deformities and speech difficulties.

7:30 p.m., Oct. 11 — SIUE, Juan Williams and Cal Thomas will debate important issues driving our nation’s future, examining the qualities and shortcomings of our political process, how elections are affected, and how those in the positions of power act. Though they often disagree, they will discuss ways in which citizens can effectively find common ground.

7 p.m. Oct. 13 — Lindenwood, Speaker series: Ambassador Robin Sanders, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo from 2002 to 2005, and to Nigeria from 2007 to 2010.

7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 — Principia College, Ed Viesturs, “No Shortcuts to the Top.” Viesturs is a high-altitude mountaineer and corporate speaker.

November

7 p.m. Nov. 17 — Lindenwood, Speaker series: Stuart Diamond, an internet entrepreneur, journalist and musician.

7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 — McKendree, Distinguished Speaker Series, Linda Greenlaw, the best-selling author of books with maritime themes and the only female swordfishing boat captain on the East Coast of the United States.

7 p.m. Nov. 21 — McKendree, Film Art Series, “Macbeth.” Shakespeare’s bloody tale of the Scottish tyrant.

December

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 — SIUE, Peter Mayer’s Stars and Promises 2016 – Wings of Angels, celebrating Christmas with songs with a worldwide influence.

7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 — Lindenwood, “A Christmas Carol,” Adaptation of Charles Dickens story of Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Dec. 4 — McKendree, “Danu A Christmas Gathering” — SOLD OUT

Dec. 7 and 8 — McKendree, United States Air Force Band of Mid-America — SOLD OUT

January

7:30 p.m. Jan. 8 — McKendree, Performance Series, “Russian National Ballet Theatre: Chopiniana/Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare’s lovers presented in ballet and set to the music of Chopin and Tchaikovsky.

7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 — McKendree, Performance Series, “The Improvised Shakespeare Company,” Based on audience suggestion, the cast creates an unplanned, unrehearsed and entirely new improvised play in the Elizabethan style.

February

7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 — McKendree, Performance Series, “Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin II.” Professional studio musicians and vocalists re-create Led Zeppelin tracks.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 — SIUE, Autumn’s Child with Mark Holland. Native American flute described as “global chamber music.”

7 p.m. Feb. 7 — McKendree, Film Art Series, “Do the Right Thing,” a drama that focuses on urban racism.

7 p.m. Feb. 8 — Lindenwood, Speaker series: Callie Crossley, a television and radio commentator; and a documentary and television news producer.

11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Feb. 11. — McKendree, Performance Series, “Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia: Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Other Treasured Stories.” Blend of puppetry and scenic effects brings to life children’s storybook favorites by Eric Carle.

7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 24, and 25 and March 3 and 4 — Lindenwood puts on “Urinetown.” Musical theater of dystopian society where a water shortage has caused a heinous corporation to ration bathroom privileges.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 — SIUE, Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture, Feature-length documentary about the Chicago architect who inspired Frank Lloyd Wright.

7 p.m. Feb. 23, — McKendree, Film Art Series, “Dear White People.” A campus culture war between blacks and whites stemming from an offensive Halloween party.

7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 — McKendree, Performance Series, Le Vent du Nord, progressive folk musicians from Canada.

7 p.m. Feb. 28 — McKendree, Film Art Series, “The Birth of a Nation,” a former slave leads a liberation movement in 1831 in Virginia that results in a violent retaliation.

March

7:30 p.m. March 7 — McKendree, Distinguised Speaker Series, “the idea lab,” modeled after TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design).

7 p.m. March 8 — Lindenwood, Speaker series: Candice DeLong, a retired FBI profiler and author of “Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI.”

7:30 p.m. March 16 — SIUE, “Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential” with Dr. Mae C. Jemison,

7:30 p.m. March 23 — McKendree, Performance Series, pianist Philip Fortenberry.

April

7:30 p.m. April 12 — McKendree, Distinguished Speaker Series, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.”

7:30 p.m. April 23 and 24 — Lindenwood, an evening of one-act plays

7:30 p.m. April 25 — McKendree, Performance Series, Parsons Dance, contemporary dance company from New York hailed for athleticism, joyfulness and technical skill.

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