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Jayme McGhan to lead theatre department and GTA

September 1, 2020

Jayme McGhan has been named the new head of the Department of Theatre at the University of North Georgia (UNG) and took the reins as the artistic and managing director of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA). His first day was Aug. 1.

GTA is a nationally acclaimed collaboration between UNG, Brenau University, theater professionals and the northeast Georgia community.

McGhan, who was previously dean of the School of Fine Arts at Houston Baptist University (HBU), described the position at UNG and GTA as a natural fit for him. He explained he can use his administrative talents with GTA and his theatrical skills with UNG students, faculty and staff.

"My heart belongs to theatre, and I wanted to get back to it after being a dean," he said. "The artistic and managing director position, as well as the department chair position, scratch both the artistic and administrative itches for me.”

McGhan is a nationally recognized playwright and resident playwright emeritus with Chicago Dramatists. He is the author of 22 full-length plays that have been widely produced and developed across the country.

McGhan also has worked in almost every facet of theater, ranging from set and lighting design to directing and acting. McGhan has taught all of those disciplines during his 16 years in higher education.

"I've taught almost every class but costume design and stage management," McGhan said.

Prior to being dean at HBU, McGhan has held leadership roles at four other universities and worked professionally with numerous theater companies across the country. 

McGhan holds a Master of Fine Arts in theatre arts, playwriting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from Southwest Minnesota State University.

He looks forward to bringing his skills and talents to UNG and GTA.

"GTA has been a shining example of what to do and how to do it well," he said. "I am looking forward to continuing that tradition."

That tradition has been paused for the upcoming fall semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Gainesville Theatre Alliance has made the difficult decision to cancel its fall 2020 performances based on current public health information, state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and campus restrictions of both Brenau and UNG," said Keri McClain, marketing manager of GTA.

The WonderQuest production of "James and the Giant Peach" and GTA's mainstage production of "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" are canceled. Patrons with tickets will receive a letter regarding their options.

The spring performances of "Little Women," "In the Red and Brown Water," and "The Arabian Nights" are scheduled to proceed as planned, with necessary safety protocols in place. The Discovery Series production of "The Laramie Project" is rescheduled for April 2021.

Tickets will go on sale Oct. 1 at gainesvilletheatrealliance.org or by calling the box office.

In the meantime, McGhan said he will focus on training students.

"We'll focus this semester on what we can do well sans the standard performative opportunities.  For example, we can build the repertoire of the dramatic canon or work toward advanced script analysis techniques and how a dramatist parcels out a play," he said. "We will dig into training well-rounded artists."

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