Theatre MSU receives MAC grant to create original production promoting social change

Tonya Hays 2021

MSU Office of Public Affairs

News Bureau (662) 325-3442

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

September 9, 2021


     STARKVILLE, Miss.— Mississippi State’s Theatre MSU—the Department of Communication’s production division—has received a portion of more than $1.4 million in funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission to support the creation and performance of an original theatrical production.


     “We are thrilled to announce and congratulate this year’s many deserving grant recipients,” said Sarah Story, executive director of MAC. “We applaud these talented and innovative individuals and groups who met the challenge of one of the hardest years the arts sector has experienced.


     “The state’s arts community has displayed such resiliency during tumultuous times, and we are very pleased to provide support to these worthy organizations,” said Story. “These funds will help organizations recover from the past year and build upon their successes for future arts-based programming. MAC awards annual grants to individuals and organizations in nearly every area of the state, helping broaden the reach of arts to serve the state’s diverse population.”


     Theatre MSU will use a portion of the $4,500 in MAC funding to bring to campus Master Teacher Barbara Pitts McAdams, an artist-in-residence who will provide workshops, education and insight for Theatre MSU’s original spring 2022 production of “Who Gets to be an American?”


     McAdams is a co-author of “Moment Work: Tectonic Theater Projects’ Process of Devising,” and a company member of the Tectonic Theatre Project. She was an original cast member and co-creator of The Laramie Project, an interview-based play about the beating and death of Matthew Shepard.


     Tonya S. Hays, as assistant professor of theatre performance, said, “The question, ‘Who gets to be an American?’ belongs to all of us, from immigrants and indigenous people to generations of former slaves and a boat full of Jews seeking asylum from the Holocaust. This theatre project will focus on devising a non-traditional way of creating theatre, and will provide a unique opportunity for creative engagement, bringing people together on a polarizing issue.”


     Hays said Theatre MSU is committed to themes of social justice and to a diverse and inclusive student body and production season. “We believe fervently in lifting up the voices of underrepresented artists and students,” said Hays.


     Funding for the MAC grant is provided by the Mississippi Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Endowment for the Arts at the Community Foundation for Mississippi, and other private sources.


     MAC is a state agency serving more than two million people through grants and special initiatives that enhance communities, assist artists and arts organizations, promote arts education and celebrate Mississippi’s cultural heritage. For more information, visit For information about MAC, contact Anna Ehrgott, communications director, at


     Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, information about the Department of Communication is available at MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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