Theatre professor directs arts festival

Published by , Author: Megan Bush - Campus Life Editor, Date: May 4, 2017

Instructor of theatre Deanna Brookens said she’s always been an artist and an actress, so it makes sense that, after she returned to SRU as a professor, she also took on the role of director for SRU’s biggest arts festival.

This year’s festival was Brookens’ third year directing the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, but she’s been involved since she was an undergrad here at Slippery Rock.  She used to volunteer with some of the events, including the Children’s Day program held at the Robert A. Macoskey Center, which is still her favorite part of the festival. 

“Children’s Day is really special to me because children’s imaginations are so expansive, and they just ooze creativity,” Brookens said.  “I love getting my daughter involved.”

Other events that took place during the two-week-long festival included a performance hosted by the Women’s Center called “Jane Doe,” a film festival and a performance by the Get Down Gang, a dance group from the Pittsburgh area.  Brookens said she wanted to bring the Get Down Gang, as well as their children’s group, the Get Down Kids, because SRU students had previously expressed interest in seeing hip hop groups come to campus.

Brookens said that, although she is the director, she’s not the only one doing work behind the scenes.

“I am the figurehead [of the festival], but I am not alone,” Brookens said.  “There’s an entire committee of professors from the college of liberal arts, as well.”

Brookens said the committee starts looking for artists and programs over the summer break, and they come up with a list of ideas, sometimes returning to ideas that were turned down years prior, until finally narrowing it down based on what will be best for the students.  She enjoys collaborating with the committee and that it’s nice to catch up every month and hear what they’re doing.

“There’s [also] a really strong core of students on the Student Advisory Board for the festival,” Brookens said.

Bringing back Kaleidoscope on Main, which featured live music, student performing groups and vendors, was one thing Brookens was really looking forward to during this year’s festival.  She said the festival itself encourages the community to get involved with the campus arts programming, of which SRU has quite a variety, such as dance, theatre, music, and other fine art.

“There’s so much great arts programming that goes on at the end of the year,” Brookens said about the beginning days of Kaleidoscope.  “The college of liberal arts said, ‘hey, we could cross-promote our awesome arts programming in a big celebration of the arts!’”

Brookens said Kaleidoscope continually affirms her belief in the arts because the festival encourages a shared experience of art, and it gives people a chance to experience art together.

“Whether people consciously think about it, the arts mean a lot to people,” Brookens said.  “There’s always something for everyone.”


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