It has been a three weeks since UNT performance students, alongside senior lecturer Dr. Holley Vaughn, assistant professor Dr. Sasha Sanders, and emeritus professor Dr. Jay Allison, ventured up the mountain to Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton, Arkansas for the 2023 Petit Jean Performance Festival. The 42nd annual festival, co-hosted for the first time by the University of Houston-Clear Lake alongside the University of North Texas, was led by Dr. Tessa Carr, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Auburn University. Our own Dr. Holley Vaughn co-directed the festival along with Dr. Andrea Baldwin, senior lecturer in communication at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
The festival garnered attendants from 12 universities and 3 organizations and businesses. Participants, led by our performance studies graduate students, created group performances in several group work sessions beginning the morning of Friday October 14 which were performed Saturday afternoon. Also on the program were invited performances from students and faculty at Capital University, Louisiana State University, Southern Illinois University, and Villanova University.
What cannot be recapped are the bonds forged, friendships shared, and joy found in spending a few days among nature creating and sharing performances with others. We'll always cherish memories made on the mountain!
Special thanks to Dr. Holley Vaughn, Dr Andrea Baldwin, Dr. Tessa Carr, Nicole Iwueke, and the many others who spent countless hours over the past year planning and preparing for the festival.