Drama Club


While best known for its programs in engineering, Tri-State has a surprisingly strong theatrical heritage, due to the legendary efforts of one of Angola’s own—Charles Edwin Shank. A graduate of Angola High School, Shank began teaching elocution at Tri-State in 1911, and in 1913, he organized the Dramatic Club. He resigned shortly thereafter to study at Northwestern, where he remained until World War I intervened. Shank joined the Army as an entertainer, but returned to Tri-State in time to direct the 1919 commencement play, “Palace of Truth.”

Widely known in the Midwest at this time for his high-quality, amateur theatrical productions, Shank continued as the director of Tri-State’s Dramatic Club until his retirement in 1946. Among the most memorable of his plays are those that were performed on the outdoor stage, which was dedicated in 1936 and removed in 1961 to make way for the Perry T. Ford Library.

Many of the early successes of those outdoor performances were Shakespearean productions such as the “Merchant of Venice” in 1936 and “As You Like It” in 1941. For example, it is reported that over 1,500 people sat on the hillside each night to watch the cast of over 60 local high school girls and Tri-State engineering students in the 1937 Tri-State College production of “Mid-Summer Night’s Dream.”

Among those engineering students in the 1937 cast was an aspiring chemical engineer from Pennsylvania, John J. McKetta, Jr., who played the role of Bottom. Although he received rave reviews, Dr. McKetta remained in engineering, and today he holds the Joe C. Walter Chair in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also has served as a professor, chair, dean and vice chancellor. A member of Tri-State’s Board of Trustees since 1957, McKetta remains a star on the Tri-State stage.

Source: Tri-State (Trine) University News Tidbit for September 20, 2001

Mal Foerster Backstage Award

This award is in memory of Mal Foerster. Mal was the husband of Kathy Foerster, Drama Club’s faculty advisor from 1997 to Spring 2003. This award is presented to an individual who shows extraordinary efforts with the technical and backstage aspects of the theater. A running plaque is located outside of Wells Theater in Taylor Hall.

Previous Award Winners:

  • Heidi Finley- 1999
  • Jon Hepner- 2000
  • Dr. William G. Meyers- 2001
  • Nicholas A. Wentworth- 2002
  • Linda Sebring- 2003
  • Chris Barr- 2004
  • Leslie Erlenbaugh- 2005
  • Nikkie Stimac- 2006
  • Robert Shivers- 2006
  • Scott Crawford- 2007
  • Kelly Anne Porter- 2008
  • Kevin Dahlstrom – 2009
  • Erik Evans – 2010
  • Brian Boes & Kerri Fish – 2012
  • Matthew Shaw – 2015

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