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100 Great Things About Keene State College
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Students on Stage:
Theatre and Dance and Music, Oh My!
After the Fall photo

Scroll through the production chronology on the Theatre and Dance website to see the range and depth of dramatic productions staged by students and their devoted faculty, from the first show in the brand-new Redfern Arts Center, The Threepenny Opera (spring 1981, Edith Notman, director), to After the Fall (fall 1992, Dan Patterson, director; selected for presentation by the American College Theatre Festival Region 1), and to other ACTF designees right up to The Matchmaker (fall 2008, PeggyRae Johnson, director; winner of five national Kennedy Center ACTF awards for acting).

In fall 2009, The Threepenny Opera will return to the Redfern stage in honor of the College Centennial.

Across the hall in the Music Department, more than 100 music majors learn the fine points of musicianship and participate in more than 50 public concerts and recitals each year, from the cutting-edge Jazz Ensemble to chamber groups, Guitar Orchestra, senior recitals, Percussion Ensemble, Opera Workshop, and much, much more.

KSC Film Society
Larry Benaquist photo by FJ Gaylor

In 1971 a group of students came to Larry Benaquist, who was teaching English at the time, to ask if he would start a film society. Dr. Benaquist had just begun to explore his own interest in the art of film, so the timing was right.

Thus was born the KSC Fine Film Society. However, the Society took the word "Fine" out of its title after it showed Pink Flamingos, which mounts a head-on assault against every social taboo you can think of (and then some).

Thirty-eight years and a couple thousand films later, the Film Society provides a reliable way for the Keene community to see alternative films. The Society also hosts an annual film festival that focuses on a special genre.

Thanks to the equipment in the Putnam Theatre, the Film Society can show films in 70mm format and Dolby digital sound, which offer breathtaking detail and awesome stereo. The 70mm films often pack the house, drawing people from as far away as Boston.

Art Show Postcards
“For the 100 great things: The beautiful Thorne-Sagendorph art show postcards. I've plastered them all over my office for the last 11 years.”
– Christopher Bush,
Student Financial Services
Herald of Spring: An Evening of Dance
An Evening of Dance photo by Peter Roos

An Evening of Dance was created in the 1970s by Alta Lu Townes, the first director of the Dance program.

In the early years, the concert consisted of 25 three-minute dance studies, performed on the Drenan Auditorium stage in the basement of Parker Hall.

Now, 35 years later, An Evening of Dance has matured into a fully produced modern dance concert, part of the Redfern's Presenting Series. Directed by Marcia Murdock, this celebration of choreography and performance showcases student dancers in original works, with an additional 50-plus Theatre and Dance students in production and costume crews.

Shawna-Lee Perrin WKNH photo by Peter Finger

Long before iPods and MP3 players, Keene State students got their music fix on the turntable and the radio. A nonprofit, student-run station that aired its first song in 1971, WKNH (91.3 FM) offered an alternative sound played by an alternative group of DJs.

"The radio station was a refuge for students who sometimes walked to the beat of a different drummer," said current station advisor Larry Welkowitz.

One of the DJs who was inspired by the combination of music and diverse dialogue emanating from the second floor of Elliot Hall was Shawna-Lee Perrin '94.

"On my most nostalgic of days, I like to think that I was a local part of a global scene, a scene that was artistically uncompromising and expansive and often infinitely danceable," she wrote in the Fall '06 issue of Keene State Today about her days spinning tunes at the station.

While change is always in the airwaves at WKNH, the wall of vinyl discs still sits as a testament to years and songs gone by. Welkowitz reports that current DJs are initiating a project to digitize the station's entire vinyl collection.

Catch WKNH streaming live at

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