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BWW Blog: Studying The Performing Arts at a Christian University

When people think of Liberty University, they tend to picture students majoring in your typical "Christian-like" studies such as missionary or ministry work. What most people do not recognize Liberty for is their excellent Performing Arts Program. Their thriving Theatre Department has put on shows over the years through the Alluvion Stage Company ranging from the likes of Les Misérables to Peter and the Starcatcher.

The experience is summarized by a few Performing Arts students themselves: these shows and stories are brought to life by students who not only love the Arts, but use their love for Jesus and others to bring a new element to storytelling. I've asked a few friends from the department to help me answer some questions, as follows.

How is God/religion integrated in your studies?

"Faith is an important part of our education at Liberty University. We are required to take several Bible and Theology courses, but biblical principles are integrated into every course we take. Faith is such a central aspect of our lives that it flows into everything we do. Our professors open every class with prayer, taking prayer requests and asking students to participate in leading prayer as well. Some of my courses have begun each meeting with a short Bible study. We often look for biblical parallels in what we're learning about our craft. Our acting professors have taught us to look for the spiritual lives of our characters, which can give us a deeper understanding of who they are and how to better portray them. The community we have in our department is unmatched-rather than petty competition, we experience deep, meaningful spiritual encouragement and love. Our professors care so deeply about not only our artistic maturity, but also our spiritual welfare. I think the best thing about studying at a Christian university is that not only am I getting a top-notch education and being trained for my career, but I am encouraged and challenged to grow in my faith, which is the core of who I am."

- Kelsey Dial, Junior, Musical Theatre

What are the best and most challenging parts of studying Performing Arts at LU?

"The best part of theater at LU is getting a Christian foundation intertwined with every aspect of the craft and being surrounded by like-minded believers in this field. The most challenging part, however, is that because this is a Christian university, you aren't exposed to many of the decisions you will have to make outside in the actual theater scene."

- Aaron Hall, Sophomore, Musical Theatre

How do you think studying Performing Arts would look different at other colleges compared to Liberty?

"I wouldn't say much changes when approaching theatre from a Christian worldview. We still learn all the same techniques and work on the same shows that more secular universities do. The biggest difference in studying Theatre at Liberty opposed to any other college is that we all have one thing in common, and that's our love for Christ. We still do all the research and preparation that the show needs, but the environment in the dressing rooms is better, the relationship with the director and crew is better, the connection with the audience is stronger. It's hard knowing that after college the entertainment industry isn't really like that, but that's why I'm drawn to this art form and want to do it as a career."

- Matt Owen, Alumni, Theatre Arts

These shows are rooted in and performed to glorify God, allowing students to take lessons from this department with them into their future careers, be it in Lynchburg or New York City. From performer to audience member to staff, hopefully everyone will leave each production remembering to keep Jesus at the center of it all, combining Christianity with passion to create the perfect story.

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