Arts group comes to town

Published 12:39 am Sunday, December 9, 2007

NATCHEZ — Local patrons of the arts met Saturday with the Mississippi Theatre Association’s executive director to discuss the future and direction of theater in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Theatre Association had a town hall meeting at the Natchez Little Theatre Saturday, and executive director Stephen Cunetto discussed — among other things — the upcoming Mississippi Theatre Association Statewide Festival in Hattiesburg.

The festival will be Jan. 10-13, and will offer students at state universities the opportunity to audition for college theater programs.

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“There have been lots of students who have gone through the auditions and stayed in the state,” Cunetto said. “That’s really the goal.”

The festival will also offer a youth competition, in which individual community theaters will present what they think is their best play.

“This is really students doing productions for other youth,” Cunetto said.

Another competition the festival offers is one in which participants have to write, cast and produce a play in 24 hours, Cunetto said.

The Natchez Little Theatre does a similar competition during its summer workshop, but the entire process has to be completed in three hours, Natchez Little Theatre Executive Director Layne Taylor said.

The goal of the Little Theatre is to be a community organization for both adults and youth, Taylor said.

“Sports are fabulous for those who can do them, but we have found that 80 percent of people weren’t able to,” he said.

From that group, the theater was able to draw together a wide range of people from the community.

“We have used young people to bring segments of the community together, black and white, urban and rural,” Taylor said.

Another goal of the theatre is to help young people realize their dreams.

“We are not just a Natchez or an Adams County organization,” he said. “We draw people from three parishes in Louisiana and five counties in Mississippi.”