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HPU’s Darren McElroy ’11 speaks to students about professional acting experiences

BROWNWOOD – February 25, 2021 – The Howard Payne University Department of Theatre recently hosted Darren McElroy, a 2011 theatre graduate, for a public interview with Dr. Nicholas Ewen ’02, associate professor of theatre. McElroy spoke about his experiences at HPU as a student and his work as a professional actor.

He currently performs with Sight & Sound Theatres in Branson, Missouri, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Following his graduation from HPU, McElroy performed in numerous productions in the Dallas area before being selected for the cast of Sight and Sound in 2018.

The event was held in the HPU Theatre building for theatre majors and minors and interested students. McElroy emphasized to students the importance of finding their worth in something more valuable than their talents alone.

“Being in performance, we often do find our identity staked in terms of what we do,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take a step back and remember, ‘I have these talents, but I am so much more than this.’ To be grounded and have your identity in Christ, that’s where it all matters and it all makes sense.”

During the interview, McElroy spoke about his experiences as a black actor, how the theatre has gradually become more representative of the diversity present in America and the conversations that have had to occur as part of the shift to more accurate representation.

“Black theatre does exist,” he said. “But it’s because of the stories. There have been more and more playwrights of color who have been telling their stories. The whole concept of what theatre looks like in America has definitely been a heavy talk, in terms of representation as a whole. It’s so beautiful to see the growth, but so much change is still needed.”

McElroy’s lecture was presented as part of the HPU theatre department’s Servant Artist Program.

“The best part of having Darren here with us was his awesome testimony of finding fulfillment in Christ through the profession of theatre,” said Dr. Ewen. “With the Servant Artist Program, our goal is to serve and share Christ through excellence on stage and off. Darren is just such a great example of this, openly sharing his struggles and triumphs on his journey as a professional actor. As a professor, I tell our students all the time, but it’s a whole new level of legitimacy to hear from a professional actor that the most important aspect of their education is their character. Who they are in Christ will not just determine if they are or are not successful as theatre artists – it will make every success or failure an opportunity to see God do amazing things through them.”

One of McElroy’s former professors Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, artistic director at the Lyric Performing Arts Company and professor emeritus of theatre at HPU, was also in attendance. She said McElroy has shown great ability on the stage.

“Darren was a delight as a student,” she said. “He was very versatile as an actor and a lot of fun to have in class. It has been such a treat for me to see Darren in performance a couple of times during his professional career. He is dynamic on stage and is a marvelous performer. More importantly, he shares his faith openly with his colleagues and is a voice of the Gospel in what can often be a very worldly profession. I am so proud of Darren’s commitment to his profession and his faith.”

The discussion was held prior to the start of The 24 Hour Theatre Festival, an annual event hosted by the HPU Department of Theatre that gives students the opportunity to collaborate in writing, directing and performing productions within a 24-hour timespan. McElroy was a featured performer in each of the original plays, performed the evening after his presentation.

“Working with the students during The 24 Hour Theatre Festival was absolutely enjoyable,” said McElroy. “Being able to take part in and witness the creativity of this generation gives me hope for the continuation of great storytelling for years to come.”

Contact Dr. Ewen at newen@hputx.edu for more information about the Servant Artist Program and the Department of Theatre at HPU.

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Cutline #1: Darren McElroy ’11, cast member for Sight & Sound Theatres, speaks with Dr. Nicholas Ewen, assistant professor of theatre, during a public interview for students.

Cutline #2: Pictured are Dr. Nicholas Ewen, associate professor of theatre; Darren McElroy, a 2011 HPU graduate and cast member of Sight & Sound Theatres; and Dr. Nancy Jo Humfeld, artistic director for the Lyric Performing Arts Company and professor emeritus of theatre at HPU.

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