Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

Tarleton Speech Class 1905 Preston Porter, Grubstake Theater

The Tarleton Players
From the early beginning of John Tarleton College, oratory was included in the curriculum. As stated in the 1902/03 bulletin, the oratory department was designed to teach oratory as an art, to develop in the student a knowledge of his powers in expression, and to work until the strain and roughness disappeared and the animation was made attractive.

The 1902/03 oratory department had 34 students and the elocution class consisted of nine members. Other bulletins stated that expression must come from within outward, with naturalness being the highest form of art with which to manifest the effect of a true conception of a truth as directly and simply as possible. The expression curriculum seeked to develop the originality and awaken the power of each student. The above photo shows the 1905 speech class.

By 1923 Tarleton had an Actor's Club with 75 members. Plays were presented by the Public Speaking and Expression Department. The first mention of the "Tarleton Players" is in the 1928 Grassburr. It states that the Tarleton Players represent the best dramatic talent in school! Before 1928 the theatrical presentations, or lyceums, were just presented by the Public Speaking and Expression Department without a name for the group.

In 1929 the Tarleton Players participated in National Drama Week. The first annual Jubliee was presented by the Speech Department Tarleton Players in 1933, with the 10th annual Jubilee held in 1942. In 1947 the Tarleton Players competed in the Texas Junior College Speech Association play contest in Hillsboro.

The 1948 Grassburr states that the Speech Club was composed of students of the Speech Department who were interested in receiving additional training and experience in appearing before an audience. Each year the Tarleton Players, presented to the Tarleton students the Annual Jubilee, consisting of plays and various dramatic interpretations.

Preston Porter, shown above, a Tarleton student from Huckabay, performed in the Tarleton Players' semi-annual Dramatic Festival in March 1959. His thoughts of performing began as an eight year old when he played a bit part in a high school production. In the spring of 1959 he also signed a contract with the Grubstake Theater in Cripple Creek, Colorado to perform dance specialties, sing, and assist in other acting parts in the Colorado summer theater! And.......he also worked in the library! In fact, today, we have several library employees who have been in the Tarleton Players!

For the opening of the Clyde Wells Fine Arts Center, the Tarleton Players performed The John Tarleton Story, and perhaps the most "famous" play occurred in the fall of 1981 when Tarleton alumnus, actor George Kennedy, made a guest appearance in Gold in the Hills!

One of the oldest organizations on campus, the Tarleton Players have been entertaining Tarleton and the community with excellent theatrical performances for many many years!

Grassburr, 1923, 1928, 1929, 1942, 1947, 1948.

J-TAC, March 17, 1959.

John Tarleton College Bulletin, 1902/03.

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