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Central Washington University

CWU Theatre Professor Reaches Out to Umpqua Students after Tragedy

Sometimes just extending encouragement and a helping hand can help a community heal. Patrick Dizney, Central Washington University professor of theatre arts, hopes to do that with several initiatives supporting students and staff at Umpqua Community College (UCC), which was the site of a mass shooting on October 1.

Dizney recently visited the students and faculty at Umpqua, both as a representative of CWU and as the incoming regional chair of Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region VII. While at Umpqua, he had the opportunity to get to know some of the students in this small department.

“I think these kids are a little isolated and need to feel the support and concern of the larger theatre and academic communities.” With that goal in mind, Dizney was able to extend significant gestures of support to the UCC theatre community.

Dizney has raised funds and donations to sponsor two theatre students from Umpqua to attend the regional festival held February 15-19 in Denver. KCACTF will waive festival registration and arrange conference housing.

Dizney has also started a GoFundMe! initiative to cover flights, food, and miscellaneous expenses for the two Umpqua students (www.gofundme.com/2pdz2edg), which has already exceeded its goal. A private donor has offered enough frequent flier miles to fund the flights. The Kennedy Center festival region has also offered to waive production participation fees of one year for productions at Umpqua allowing more theatre artists to visit the Umpqua campus and respond to productions mounted by the fragile department.

“I grew up in Eugene and spent a couple of spring breaks and one summer in Umpqua, so the community is close to my heart in many ways,” said Dizney. “I have also been developing a platform at CWU to utilize theatre as a means of facilitating social change and this seemed to be a great opportunity—empowering and healing through theatre. Plus, it's just the right thing to do—this community is hurting and we are in a position to offer some assistance.”

With support from his CWU theatre arts colleagues, Dizney will remount the upcoming CWU production of Circle Mirror Transformation on the Umpqua campus March 4 and 5.

“Circle Mirror Transformation deals with themes of developing relationships, building better lives, and the human capacity for positive change,” said Dizney. “This is exactly what CWU theatre hopes can happen for the people of Roseburg, with the encore production.”

Proceeds of the ticket sales will be contributed to a scholarship named for one of the victims, Quinn Cooper, who was a drama student at Umpqua Community College.  While in Roseburg, CWU students will offer additional workshops for drama students at Umpqua.

“I am so very proud of the work the faculty and staff of the department do for our own students,” said Scott Robinson, chair, CWU theatre arts. “And I am even more impressed with how our professors show our theatre students how they can themselves be instruments of change in a world of increased turmoil.”

“I think the worst thing is for people to feel they are alone in situations like this,” said Dizney. “We are not performing miracles, only reaching out a hand to say ‘hey, we're here for you and would like to support and grow with you.’ We all need to hear that more often.”

For more information on supporting Umpqua students, contact Patrick Dizney, CWU Theatre Arts, 503-449-2112, dizneyp@cwu.edu

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

December 29, 2015

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