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Professor encourages students to experience the arts

Staff writer

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 20:03

image Sons of the Prophet Matt Hester, Joel Higgins, David Mor, Jesse Folks

Photo by Jesse Folks

From Left to Right Matt Hester as Uncle Bill, Joel Higgins as Joseph, and David Mor as Charles, in the Station Theatre’s performance of “Sons of the Prophet” in Champaign, IL.

Parkland English Professor Thomas Schnarre uses theatre to encourage their involvement in educational activities outside of the classroom.

Schnarre first discovered theatre in the third grade while participating in an extra credit assignment. He seeks to share that discovery with students by the same method.

This semester, Schnarre offered his students the opportunity to receive extra credit in exchange for attending a play he is currently involved in at Station Theatre in Urbana, Illinois.

“Sons of the Prophet,” is a modern day interpretation of the book “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. After viewing the play, students are required to write a short essay on their personal analysis of the play.

“‘Sons of the Prophet’ is a comedy about suffering,” Director Gary Ambler explained. “The central argument is about whether and how our suffering is shared with those who are close to us.”

Schnarre’s motive behind this unique opportunity is to offer a learning experience that will enhance interactive skills and help broaden his student’s perspectives.

“One of the goals I have for my student’s is that what we talk about in the classroom doesn’t end in the classroom,” Schnarre explained.

Schnarre is stepping outside of the box by turning a popular form of entertainment into a learning tool. In present-day America, media is so regularly present in our lives we hardly recognize the influence it has.

More importantly, Schnarre is achieving his goal of inspiring association outside of the classroom. Over the years, he has seen a multitude of students participate in this assignment.

Steve Igoe, one of Schnarre’s students, explained that he believes Schnarre’s opportunity helps to expand student’s views as well as expose students to unfamiliar perspectives.

Student Ann McDevitt also agreed that this opportunity was enriching for students.By offering the opportunity to engage in learning outside of the classroom students are able to look at life through a different lens.

Throughout his life, Schnarre has been involved in many different roles in theatre.

“It is the one thing that I’ve never lost interest in,” he said. “It’s the one thing that makes sense to me.”

By incorporating his passion into the curriculum Schnarre leads by example and encourages students to embrace the activities within Champaign-Urbana.

Station Theatre is run by the non-profit organization, The Celebration Company. The company relies heavily on volunteers. In addition to inspiring students to look for intellectual stimulation outside of textbooks and classrooms, Schnarre allows his passion to reach out to others. By making students aware of the active theatre community, he preserves the dramatic arts in Champaign-Urbana.

A common goal at institutions of education is to inspire student involvement in the community. Schnarre illustrates to his students through a simple task of attending a play how favorable new and different experiences can be.

“Sons of the Prophet” will run every night at 8:00 p.m. at the Station Theatre in Urbana, Ill. until the final performance on March 9. For more information, visit

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