Bringing laughter center stage

Millholland grant funds the fun of improv at LR

In December 2023, Lenoir-Rhyne was awarded funding to help start an improvisational theatre troupe called Bear With Us. The grant from the Kenneth K. Millholland and Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment will support startup costs for the new group by purchasing props and supplying other funding for the troupe.

Group of theatre students on stage in a circle

“Bear With Us will provide students an outlet to tap into their creative talents in service of the university and the community,” said Cat Niekro, vice president of advancement and communications. “We’re grateful to the Kenneth K. Millholland and Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment and the North Carolina Community Foundation for their generous support in this project that will make LR a more vibrant and dynamic campus.”

Bear With Us is a collaborative effort within the theatre program, and auditions are planned for fall 2024. Once the lineup is finalized, the troupe will be available to perform at events around campus, bringing humor and levity to their performances and building connections among the group and audience members. 

Over the long term, Bear With Us plans to share the value of improv with students in local schools through performances and by serving as a resource for community members and younger students interested in improv. 

“Improv theater encourages creativity, collaboration and quick-thinking – all skills that are invaluable in various aspects of life, from academic presentations to job interviews. It also promotes teamwork, mutual support and inclusion,” Niekro said. “Humor helps people connect, and this project will build stronger bridges between LR and the community.”

The Kenneth K. Millholland and Suzanne G. Millholland Endowment is one of more than 1200 charitable funds administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation in support of a range of community and campus initiatives statewide. Past grants to Lenoir-Rhyne have helped fund the Career Closet at the Alex Lee Career and Professional Development Center and resources for student spiritual development and interfaith dialogue.

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