Dr. Nick Ewen, HPU’s theatre department demonstrate servant-artist approach at upcoming festival


Dr. Nick Ewen, chair of Howard Payne University’s Department of Theatre, views theatre as an avenue for Christian service. His department will host the Christian University Theatre Festival (CUTF) at HPU on March 4-5 following performances this weekend. This festival will allow the values that drive Dr. Ewen’s teaching and the students’ production work to be displayed on and off the stage.

In addition to his role as department chair, Dr. Ewen serves as associate professor of theatre, instructing students in performing arts at HPU since 2007. A 2002 HPU graduate himself, he’s passionate about giving students hands-on experience in the various facets of theatre performance, just as he received as a student.

“Our department is a production-focused department,” he said. “Students are very much in charge of helping with props, costumes, painting the set, building the set, loading it in and out, and lighting. People think of the theater students as actors, and they are, but they’re really production. They’re doing all the other stuff too, and it’s good for them to have so much production experience when they leave Howard Payne.”

Though a common focus in theatre is to use performance for personal fame, Dr. Ewen views performing arts as a tool to serve, develop Christ-like character, speak truth and exhibit excellence that brings glory to God. In this model, success is defined by the values of Christ. As a result of this focus, Dr. Ewen has designated the HPU Department of Theatre as the Servant Artist Program, emphasizing theatre as a way to exercise God’s calling on the lives of all believers.

“The purpose of the Servant Artist Program is to serve and share Christ through excellence on stage and off stage,” said Dr. Ewen. “It means being very up-front about what I believe and how it affects everything I do. It doesn’t just mean I try to avoid ‘bad’ things in performance – it means I go out of my way to share Christ’s love and the gospel message with anyone I encounter in this profession. Getting to host CUTF at HPU is an opportunity to set that tone.”

The Christian University Theatre Festival (CUTF) is an annual event at which theatre programs from Christian universities in Texas gather to share and learn through performances and workshops. Students and faculty find this to be a valuable opportunity to grow in their art and form relationships with peers from other universities.

As their entry in the festival, HPU students will present the play Poor Clare by Chiara Atik. The group will also perform the play during the weekend before the festival. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday, March 1-2 (7:30 p.m.), Sunday, March 3 (2:30 p.m.), and their performance for CUTF on Monday, March 4 (1 p.m.).

“This show shares a message of how God uses humility and attentiveness to the needs of others to impact the world for His name,” said Dr. Ewen. “Filled with humor, whimsy and philosophical thought, it will be a memorable performance for all in attendance. This is an excellent production to demonstrate what the Servant Artist Program is all about.”

As well as HPU’s performance, attending this year will be groups from Hardin-Simmons University and Lubbock Christian University. On Monday, March 4, HSU will perform The Ballad of Maria Marten by Beth Flintoff (7 p.m.) and Woyzeck by Georg Büchner (10 p.m.). On Tuesday, March 5, LCU will perform Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley (1 p.m.).

Additionally, Poor Clare, followed by the other CUTF productions, will allow audiences to have a sneak peek at ongoing renovations to HPU’s theatre, located at 202 Whaley Street in Brownwood. Already installed are new carpeting for the audience area and a new staircase allowing easier access to the back of the seating area. New seating is scheduled to be installed in the near future.

 “It’s the perfect time for community members to experience HPU theatre,” said Dr. Ewen. “Not only will we have a greatly improved space for the audience, but our students have put in a lot of hard work on this production. They’ve collaborated well and been attentive to direction. They really are exhibiting what servant artists look like, and I can’t wait for them to share that with their audience and the other students participating in CUTF.”

Tickets will be available at the theatre for all HPU and CUTF performances. Regular ticket price is $10. Tickets are $5 for students, HPU personnel and all U.S. military service members and first responders.