By Tiffany King
Dr. Colleen Knight, chair for the Department of Natural Sciences and associate professor of chemistry at the College of Coastal Georgia, will soon take off her lab coat and put on a religious habit to grace the stage as a street-wise nun from Brooklyn in the musical comedy "Nunsense."
"Nunsense," written by Dan Goggin, follows the antics of five nuns trying to raise money for a funeral. The production will be directed by Josh Sinyard, drama teacher at Glynn Academy, with the proceeds going towards the Glynn Academy Players drama club. "Nunsense'' will be performed February 1-2 at 7 p.m. and February 3 at 2:30 p.m. in the Glynn Academy Auditorium.
Knight has been teaching at the College since 2012 and was named chair of her department in 2016. She teaches nursing chemistry, nursing biochemistry, biochemistry, and advance biochemistry. "Nunsense" is the first theatre production Knight will participate in since taking the chair position.
In The Spotlight
Her history with the arts goes back to her childhood, when she participated in cultural dances choreographed by her mother. Unfortunately, in high school Knight couldn't make the rehearsals for the drama club, and didn't have enough time to devote to theatre during her collegiate career. That soon changed after she completed her education and started working at the College. She found herself with more spare time for hobbies, and first filled that time with sewing.
One day she read a notice that the theatre group The Island Players were looking for people to audition for an upcoming production. Knight decided not to audition at that time, but as fate would have it, she later made friends with members of The Island Players, including Sinyard. Sinyard encouraged her to audition for a role in the musical "Godspell" in 2014. She was chosen to be in the cast and from then on she was hooked. Knight has since appeared in "Shrek The Musical," "Bye Bye Birdie," and "SUDS: The Rocking 60s Musical Soap Opera."
After taking the chair position at the College, Knight hasn't had much time to devote to theatre. Sinyard assured her that the cast of "Nunsense" were dedicated to putting together the best show while accommodating everyone's busy schedules.
"Everyone in the show is someone he's worked with in the past and who he knows will dig in and get their parts ready, and learn their songs, even if we don't rehearse as often as he might like," Knight said. "Everyone is on the exact same page. We can actually take a step back and have fewer rehearsals because we trust each other to do the work that's necessary to make it the best show it can absolutely be. That's a lot of fun too, knowing that the people I'm working with are just as passionate and dedicated."
The cast of the musical comedy "Nunsense" (left to right) Colleen Knight, Lori Willis, Sandra McLeod, Misty Renard, and Suzanne Tilghman practice for their upcoming production that will benefit the Glynn Academy Players drama club. (Photo provided by Josh Sinyard)
The cast of five are mostly educators or former educators from the Glynn County School System. The cast includes: Suzanne Tilghman as Sister Mary Amnesia, Lori Willis as Sister Mary Hubert, Misty Renard as Sister Mary Leo, Sandra McLeod as Mother Superior, and Knight as Sister Robert Anne. Being a part of the production, also gave Knight a new skill—tap dancing. One of the cast members taught the others how to tap dance for a number in the show.
Knight loves the energy she gets from being on stage. She also gets energy while teaching in front of the classroom—but it's different with theatre, says Knight.
"One thing I noticed is that, after performing, I get jittery. If a show ends at 10 p.m., I won't be able to sleep until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. because there's so much energy left behind in my body," she said. "I guess that's the bug everyone says you can catch in theatre. If you catch the bug, then you're addicted to it."
A Perfect Match
Knight was starting to feel the effects of being away from the stage so long. She said she was "dragging" and realized the theatre was what was missing from her life. Although many people see the arts and sciences as unrelated, Knight finds this untrue and wants to dispel the myth that science people only like science.
"We're people too and we have our hobbies. Many scientists have an artistic and creative side to them," Knight said. "There can't be innovation without creativity. Science is all about innovation and creating new things and learning new things. It's really hard to design an experiment if you can't think outside the box, analyze, and come up with conclusions."
She hopes the arts receive more support from schools and the community, especially since it can play an important role in child development.
"I believe the arts provide an important balance to people. In the performing arts, the amount of discipline, hard work, skill, and concentration that are needed to succeed in a show are all the skills needed to succeed in any endeavor," Knight said. "We must cultivate the arts in our youth so that they can grow up to be well-rounded, thoughtful and creative members of society. That is why I am so happy to be volunteering my time for this project."
For A Good Cause
Knight commended Sinyard for the work he's doing with students at Glynn Academy. She was very impressed with their recent production of "Godspell."
"I was blown away by the talent on that stage. "Godspell" is a hard show because the actors are on stage the entire time—there are no breaks. Those students did a phenomenal job and the whole cast learned to tap dance," she said. "Josh is an incredibly talented human being in general. I have noticed that he's done a great job of cultivating those students and their talents, and I'm glad that what we're doing is going to continue to help that."
Nunsense will run February 1 and February 2 at 7 p.m., and February 3 at 2:30 p.m. at the Glynn Academy Auditorium. The cost of tickets is $12 for students and senior citizens, and $15 for all other adults. All proceeds will go toward the Glynn Academy Players drama club.