Victoria Erickson quotes an artist as a being that’s filled with so much passion that all they can do with the overflow is bleed it out by creating. And with this type of art, the energy will be shifted from the depths of them and into the depths of the audience to be felt. It is to touch and awaken another human in a place they hadn’t known was aching.

And here in Panama City, Gulf Coast Stage College Players, a student run theater club, is doing just that. From hosting workshops to performing nights of improvisational Comedy, GCSC Player’s are introducing the community to the exciting world of theater. In GCSC Players, every aspect is handled by students – from production tech, to acting, to picking out the performances themselves. Currently, the club is working on a one-act

Freeman, Holmes, and Paris during a scene of Deliver Us Not!

comedy written by Lee Howard and Greg Gamble entitled “Deliver Us Not! (Or Birth, Where is thy Sting?)” which they will be performing at the Northwest Florida Theater Festival later this month. I was invited to join the cast for a rehearsal last week to get a better look on the mechanics of GCSC Players. When I arrived, Tyler Kent, director of “Deliver us Not!” welcomed me with open arms.

Kent’s passion for theater began in third grade, when a friend showed him a production directed by Ron Holman at the Imagination Factory- an amazing musical theater experience for children that started here in Panama City back in 1996. With an early start with the community theater, an avid thirst for musicals, and a college major in musical theatre/voice performance, it’s no wonder that he turned to GCSC Players’s in August 2016 for another opportunity to perform.

Kent described GCSC Players as the perfect chance to take what a student is learning in their college classes and put it to use. In 2016 alone, Kent performed in the Halloween Variety and Miscast Musical Show. Kent’s passion for theater and dedication to GCSC Player’s recently awarded him the title of club president for the 2017-2018 school year.

Tyler Kent, who is directing his first show for the Northwest Florida Theater Festival

As club president, Kent will be overseeing and running meetings, planning events, and giving his fellow students opportunities to perform/tech outside of the main campus roster of shows at Gulf Coast State. And what better way of kicking this all off then by directing his first show, Deliver Us Not! (or Birth, Where Is Thy Sting?)

Player’s recently awarded him the title of club president for the 2017-2018 school year. As club president, Kent will be overseeing and running meetings, planning events, and giving his fellow students opportunities to perform/tech outside of the main campus roster of shows at Gulf State. And what better way of kicking this all off then by directing his first show, Deliver Us Not! (or Birth, Where Is Thy Sting?)

Deliver Us Not! is about three fetuses sharing their cramped space in a womb where they debate the possibilities of life-after-birth and try to come to terms with their impending due date with topics such as atheism, warm fuzzy new-age sophisms, and pompous poetry. “The fictional idea of 3 fetuses discussing things that we as fully grown humans still debate today, left me in stitches.” Kent said, “Not only will the audience leave the show with sore sides, but my hope is that they also leave with a little bit of new knowledge or at least a thirst for it”

Christian Paris rehearsing a scene of Deliver Us Not!
Jacob Holmes uses stage props during rehearsal.

During my visit to the GCSC Players, I had the privilege of meeting MJ Freeman- playing Fetus #3, Jacob Holmes- playing Fetus #1, and Christian Paris- playing Fetus #2, all decked out in pink onsies. Although the clubs focus is on the students of GCSC, the events and productions are open to community members as well. The three aforementioned are currently seniors at Mosley, Palm Bay, and Arnold High school here in Panama City. Kent chose these performers specifically due to their advanced skills and impeccable comedic timing. As Kent explained, “They are at a stage with their acting where they want to try things and they are open to the ideas that come with training your craft.”

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From left to right: MJ Freeman, Jacob Holmes, and Christian Paris

In the small rehearsal room at Gulf Coast I was able to peek into the tight knit chemistry of the cast and crew led under the direction of Kent, when something didn’t go right, it was redone and perfected. The positive criticism never came from one person, it was a short discussion between the actors. Kent wasn’t directing that day as much as he was

Freeman, Holmes, Kent and Mckinley Alden, and Arnold High senior and a GCSC student discuss rehearsal.
Freeman, Holmes, Kent, and Mckinley Alden- an Arnold High senior and a GCSC student- discuss rehearsal.

guiding his players to do the best they could without much interruption, echoing that the students are putting to use what they’re learning in their college classes at GCSC. When asked what his advice is for people looking to become more involved in the community theater he replied, “Go audition! Volunteer! Go see a show! No matter what facet of theater you are interested in, I promise it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced in your life.”

Deliver Us Not! (Or Birth, Where is thy Sting?) will be playing Sunday May 14th at 9pm and Friday May 19th at 10pm at Miramar Beach for the Northwest Florida Theater Festival – for more information, you can go to the Emerald Coast Theatre website or visit the production’s event page.

GCSC Players provide a wide variety of events from offering workshops, improv nights, ten-minute plays, as well as their first full length production this summer, DOG SEE’S
GOD!, directed by Ray Stanley. For more information on auditions for this production- or to become more involved with the community theater at Gulf Coast like and follow their facebook page.

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