When tryouts for two plays were held last week at Southeast Missouri State University, two of the 22 aspiring actors and actresses were non-students.
As it turns out, some of the roles in the two planned productions, "Sainte-Carmen of the Main" and "Don't Dress for Dinner," are best suited for older actors. And the university wants more community members to get involved in its theater productions.
This is just one of several opportunities for the university and the community to come together in ways that are beneficial to both.
Cape Girardeau has a wealth of acting talent, as evidenced by the productions of the River City Players. Now there are even more roles to try out for, thanks to the theater department's renewed encouragement for members of the community to get involved.
Already community musicians contribute their talents to orchestral and choral performance that are organized through the university. Members of the boosters who support athletic teams provide another way to bring the city and the university together. Each year the university brings special artistic performances to town that are enjoyed by members of the community. And spectator sports from football to basketball to baseball provide hours of enjoyment for the community as well as students.
The chamber of commerce's picnic to welcome students each fall gives young newcomers to our community a taste of our hospitality. And students find any number of ways to get involved in our city through church attendance, jobs, internships and research projects that tap the expertise of several specialized fields. One example would be the successful efforts of historic-preservation students to save the Marquette Hotel from demolition.
Also under the chamber's auspices is a university relations committee that works year-round to strengthen relations between the city and university.
And let's not overlook the attraction Cape Girardeau's retail establishments and restaurants have for both college students and university faculty and staff members.
In most college towns, there is too much of a town-and-gown mentality that frequently makes the local residents and the university community feel like adversaries. But Cape Girardeau has found good ways to take advantage of the best the university has to offer. And students, faculty and staff at the university have found ways to become a part of our town, even if it's only for a short time.
Cape Girardeau and Southeast Missouri State university are good for each other and are making what appears to be the best of the relationship.