PRINCESS THEATRE - Raising the Curtain: February 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Roane State Community College currently offers a large curriculum in “Theatre” courses. If you follow the embedded link, you will see a wide variety of course descriptions that provide our local students a pathway to their dreams – a career in the arts!

I visited one of the classes last Thursday evening titled, THEA 236, Media Production I. Students enrolled in this class receive 3 credit hours for writing, producing, and directing a short narrative or television program.

In this intensive classroom project, taught by, local celebrity Bill Landry, students also explore the crafts of editing, screenwriting, and cinematography. In addition to producing their own television show, students work in key positions on each other's projects. The class goal as a group will be to workshop a teleplay script for a scheduled shoot at the end of the term.

Mr. Landry could not be in class that evening, but he turned the class over to two local personalities with a wealth of television and movie making experience.

Andy Garrett, station manager of Channel 95 in Anderson County, and Brooks Benjamin, a local Roane County school teacher with three movies under his belt, filled in perfectly Thursday. Topics covered ranged from how to manage a television station single handedly, to how to produce and direct your own movie!

Andy often has to be fleet of foot to cover all the events at Anderson County Schools, city meetings, and to keep the screen from going black at Channel 95. I was impressed with all the hats Andy has to wear, and all the equipment he has to program and manage to keep that from happening. Andy has been the station manager since 2008.

Brooks, of course, is a wealth of information when it comes to movie/commercial making, editing, writing, and producing. He has been in the business since 2004.

He is currently riding a high with the recent news that Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon, Turner Classic Movies, and others, are offering his “Boys of Summerville”!

Brooks was born here in Roane County and got his bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. While in college, Brooks was an actor in the independent movie, "The Oak of Weeping", where he played the part of Robert "Moose" Wade.

Since college, Brooks has written and directed several commercials and short films, including his award-winning short comedy, "Minor Mutants". He also wrote, produced, and directed his award winning feature thriller, "Point of Fear".

Brooks and his wife, Jackie Barnes, are the owners of Lycan Entertainment, their production company.

Andy and Brooks, along with a couple of others, recently outlined the equipment that a television, radio, and sound studio would need in order to provide a state of the art experience for the students of Roane State involved in the “Theatre” curriculum. Their expertise in this area has been invaluable to the success of the Princess dream!

These “theatre” classes are just a small glimpse into what Roane State will be able to offer from the planned PRINCESS PERFORMING ARTS, EDUCATION, AND CONFERENCE CENTER. Once the dream begins at the Princess Complex, there will be hands on education and training in radio, television (Channel 15), movie and stage productions, lighting, sound, and cameras.

What gets me excited is all the entertainment it will bring to Roane County. All the class projects, and all the local music, art, and acting talent, will have a beautiful venue in the Princess – its stage, studios, and broadcasting capabilities!

Students of the arts, and their dreams, will come to Roane County to learn and experience what they need for a career in arts and media!

There are other media production schools in the United States that can give you a better view into what the Princess dream is for our students. Schools like the Alpha Pacific Institute in Arizona, Full Sail University in Florida, and many others you can Google. However, none of these campuses offer a fully functioning and broadcasting radio and television station, sound studio, or a 900 seat auditorium with a state-of-the-art stage!

The dream is already coming true in the courses offered by Roane State – they are the ground work! We should be hearing about TVA releasing the promised restoration money any day now. On that glorious day, the dream will begin to really come true!
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