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Tuscarawas News Detail

Kent State School of Theatre and Dance Partners With South Korea’s Dongseo University

Posted Mar. 10, 2014

Associate Professor Eric van Baars to spend semester teaching and directing in Asia 

enter photo description
Kent State University theatre professors Eric van Baars
and Jakyung Seo are leading a partnership between Kent
State’s School of Theatre and Dance and South Korea’s
Dongseo University.

Kent State University’s School of Theatre and Dance has embarked on a new international partnership with South Korea’s Dongseo University. The collaboration is spearheaded by Kent State theatre professors Jakyung Seo and Eric van Baars. In this first stage of the partnership, van Baars will travel to Busan, South Korea, this month to join the Dongseo faculty as a guest artist. Dongseo University faculty members have already visited Kent State, as well as Porthouse Theatre.

Initially, van Baars and Seo hoped to build upon musical theatre’s popularity in South Korea by creating a Korean language version of van Baars’ online Introduction to American Musical Theatre course.

“There are more than 30 university-level musical theatre programs in South Korea – a country roughly the size of Ohio,” says van Baars.

However, when faculty from Dongseo University expressed interest in having an American faculty member visit for a semester, van Baars agreed to the opportunity. During his tenure at Dongseo, van Baars will teach a course in musical theatre scene study and direct a fully staged production of Stephen Schwartz’s Children of Eden. The production of Children of Eden, described by van Baars as a “beautiful story perfect for a large ensemble,” will be performed in June. He also will direct a professional production of Huan Birthday Shoes for the MAC Theatre Company. Both productions will be performed in Korean.

During his time in South Korea, van Baars “hopes to provide the Dongseo students and actors with experiences that replicate what they would receive here at Kent and in the states.”

Eventually, the universities hope to involve Kent State’s theatrical design and technology programs, which are not offered at Dongseo, and Porthouse Theatre in the collaboration. As van Baars elaborates, Dongseo faculty members are “excited to provide a collaboration that would allow their students to train extensively in the United States.” Further collaboration will allow Kent State and Porthouse Theatre to provide that training. Dongseo University’s growing theatre program and reputable film school could also provide education-abroad opportunities for Kent State students.