Advanced Spotlight flaunts extraordinary talent

By Jacob Pierce, @JacobPierce1_DE

The end of the semester ignites reminiscing.

The Advanced Spotlight will help the department of communication studies do a little remembering of its own at 8 p.m. on Saturday at The Marion Kleinau Theatre. 

The department is holding the Advanced Spotlight, an event displaying various performances from classes in speech communication. Performances can be anything from personal narrative and literature to experimental pieces. 


The show will feature both graduate and undergraduate students and will host end-of-the-year awards after the acts. 

Jonathan Gray, an associate professor of communication studies, said the spotlight displays acts from advanced level classes at the 300 and 400 level. It is a bi-annual event, the awards always being held during spring. 

Oftentimes teachers keep in mind particular acts from the beginning of the semester and have to convince students to return to the piece months later.

“It is a little bit unnerving,” Gray said. “We try to work with it and imagine, ‘What do you need to do to make this fit in the Kleinau Theatre?’”

The number of students who participate varies on the classes being taught and the adaptability of performances in the class to the Kleinau. Gray said he tries to pick a piece that will perfectly represent his class and what he is trying to get out of it.

“It creates a real beautiful end to the semester,” he said. “It always feels a little bit exhausting to me, but it is like a ritual closing of the year.”

Nathan Stucky, a professor and chair of the department of communication studies, said many instructors pick a piece from appropriate material given in class. This is not the case for each professor; some let the students vote on the best work.


These performers work hard all throughout the semester. Not everyone gets a chance to present at Kleinau, and this hour is a chance to share with a bigger audience and get feedback on an act, he said.

“It is kind of nice to be able to share your work with a larger audience than just the class,” Stucky said. “They just have a broader expositor to the show.”

Caryle Schweska, a graduate student in performance studies from Sterling, said her act is based on a master’s project involving student veterans. This topic is personal to Schweska as she is also a student veteran. Her research started out as interviewing more than a dozen students, then she would transcribe the talks, and memorize them.

She took down the people’s inflections and weird traits and then pieced seven interviews together to form one large performance. The experience got her closer to what many student veterans go through. 

“The object is to better understand and describe their journeys,” she said.

J.J. Ceniceros, a graduate student in communication studies from Perryton, Texas, said he will be performing an untitled piece about race, stereotypes and masculinity.

The presentation is based around the idea of a “cholo”, a word related to a Mexican gangster. It will use personal anecdotes, along with professional research to tell the story of a specific “cholo,” he said.

“Whenever I was younger I sort of identified with this subculture,” He said. “This is something I gravitated to, something I took interest in.”

The subject comes in and talks directly to the audience, Ceniceros said.  He notices the crowd is not tough enough, not gangster enough. So he goes through a step-by-step process on how to become a “cholo.”

After the performances are finished, awards will be given out, Gray said.  The prizes include the Telka Story Award, awarded to an outstanding undergraduate student, and the Marion Kleinau award, awarded to the an outstanding graduate student.

The Advance Spotlight will be free to everyone.