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A&M-Texarkana Professor Searches for 300 Voices of Texarkana

Published: July 6, 2015

Dr. Brian Billings Profile Picture

From rags to riches, riches to rags, and everything in between will be the focus of a new dramatic production by Dr. Brian Billings, program coordinator for drama and visual arts, and his students at Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

Dr. Billings is searching for 300 people from the Texarkana community who will share their personal stories from an economic and historical perspective.

From these interviews, Dr. Billings and his students will create characters for a production that focuses upon the economic themes that emerge from the group.

Dr. Billings said the production is in keeping with the university’s Committee for the Annual Thematic Program and Lecture Series (CATPALS).

Now in its second year, CATPALS organizes a variety of activities around a central theme in order to engage students, faculty and the Texarkana community.

Faculty members actively participate in the program by integrating the theme and lecture series into their classroom instruction. Program lectures and events are open to the public.

“The goal is to create and nurture a community of learners,” Dr. Billings said, “and the Texarkana community is an extremely valuable part of our community learning experience.”

The CATPALS theme for the 2015-16 academic year is economic opportunity.

“We are looking for local anecdotes for a workshop production focused upon the Texarkana economic environment,” Dr. Billings said. “We would like to hear stories about economic adversity and opportunity.”

The interviews will be 30-minute, in-person sessions, and individuals who volunteer to be interviewed will remain anonymous.

“We want the interviews to be reflective” Dr. Billings said, adding that he would like to see diversity in areas such as age, race, gender, profession, socioeconomic status, religion, citizenship and family background.

“Perhaps you experienced the Great Depression or lived in the post-World War II era,” Dr. Billings said. “You may remember life in the late 20th century or the early 21st century.

“This is the story of you. Don’t think your story isn’t important. Everyone has an interesting story to tell.”

Ultimately, Dr. Billings said, the play will be developed into a musical.

“We will develop the entire production – from organization and script to lyrics and music,” Dr. Billings said. “A number of opportunities will exist for the students and the community to become engaged in this process.”

In addition to modern musical theatre, Dr. Billings’ research interests include children’s literature and theatre for children.

Dr. Billings also has developed a drama-on-demand initiative at A&M-Texarkana. In 2011, he and Chief Justice Josh Morriss III created Texarkana!—The Musical, which debuted at The Silvermoon on Broad.

For more information about the CATPALS production at A&M-Texarkana or to schedule an interview, contact Dr. Billings at Brian.Billings@tamut.edu or (903) 223-3022.

  • 7101 University Ave
  • Texarkana, TX 75503
  • p: 903.223.3000
  • f: 903.223.3104
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