UAPB Theatre department garners most wins at NADSA conference


(l-r)Clarence Stokes, Ebonee Workcuff, Kerry Stokes, QuaVonte Morgan, UAPB Director of Theatre Cheryl Collins, UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander, Maranda Barris, Samille Palm, and Travis Thomas are pictured with the litany of awards garnered during the NADSA competition. Not pictured: Daniel Farmer, Andrew Spencer, Sedrick Shavers, Tangela Thomas, Justice Henton, Arecia Knight, and Crystal Roberts. Photo by Brian T. Williams

The John McLinn Ross Players at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) returned to campus with several trophies and certificates from their award-winning performance at the annual National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, Incorporated (NADSA, Inc.) competition. Held at Jackson State University, the group received awards in 10 out of 11 categories, giving them the most wins in the entire competition.

UAPB Director of Theatre Cheryl Collins is really proud of how hard the students worked. They were accompanied by Dr. Paul Lorenz, interim chair of the Department of English, Theatre and Mass Communication who was able to witness firsthand the level of talent present at UAPB.

“We have one of the best programs among the HBCUs that were [at the competition],” Lorenz said. “I was impressed with the fact that Cheryl [Collins] was asked by other [theatre] professors to come to their school and do workshops with their students because they were so impressed with what she did our students.”

Collins said the other HBCUs were in awe of the Theatre Department at UAPB as they witnessed the work and dedication put in by its students. Following the awards ceremony at NADSA, Collins related that the other HBCUs were asking them about their secret to success. The answer is simple according to Collins – hard work – and it really paid off. The categories awarded to the group were: Persuasive Speaking (first); Best Actor (Samille Palm and Ebonee Workcuff); Reader’s Theatre (second); Excellence in production of their play, Hecuba; Dual Acting (second); Interpretation of Prose and Poetry (third); and Costume Design (third).

Samille Palm, a senior theatre major said this was the NADSA conference she’d been to during her time at UAPB. She’s attended the conference annually since her freshman year and felt they worked their hardest this time around and received everything they deserved.

“I think the coming years are going to get better and better,” Palm said. “I’m also glad the underclassmen were able to attend so they can understand how hard they have to work to keep it going.”

UAPB Chancellor Dr. Laurence B. Alexander was elated about their honors. He shares a background in Drama and Communications and can appreciate what it takes to receive accolades.

“It makes me proud personally and it really does reflect well on the University and that all of the hard work gets this kind of recognition,” Alexander said.

The group is now gearing up for their final show of the season, Improvoccasion,  a series of improvs presented by Collins’ creative dramatics class. The show will run April 16-19.

For more information about the John McLinn Ross Players, contact Cheryl Collins, director of theatre at (870) 575-8802.


NADSA, Inc. was founded in 1936 and is a professional affiliation of performers, administrators, educators, students, technicians, and craftsmen of the theatre, communicative and performing arts. NADSA serves a two-fold purpose:  to encourage member institutions to establish and conduct programs in the theatre, communicative and performing arts; and provide pre-professional as well as professional experience for students, faculty, and practitioners. The NADSA festival is a time to fellowship and celebrates the art of performance.


One thought on “UAPB Theatre department garners most wins at NADSA conference

  1. I just want to say “KUDOS” to the students and the faculty of the Theater Department of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. As a former member of the John McLinn Ross Players in the 1980s and a graduate of UAPB, I can definitely relate to the hard work that it took to pull off such an incredible feat (awards in 10 of 11categories). After reading this article, I just started beaming with pride and reflecting on my days as a former thespian on “the Yard”. Thanks to all for representing so wonderfully. You have made my day!

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