Three years ago, T.J. Haynes (’16), wrote the musical Greener Pastures for his senior project. This weekend, the musical is set to premiere at Springhouse Theater in Smyrna, Tenn.
“Greener Pastures is a locally written musical about a group of involuntarily committed patients in a modern mental institution, and their quest to escape the confines of their prison,” Haynes said. “But they may carry their prisons with them.”
When thinking of ideas for his musical, Haynes wanted to write about something that others would find interesting. He said most media surrounding mental institutions tends to focus on the 1950s, when electroshock was still used to treat illnesses.
Haynes wanted a change of pace and decided to set his musical in a modern mental institution.
Greener Pastures isn’t Haynes first theatrical work by any means. A double major at Trevecca—in dramatic arts and communication studies—Haynes remembers writing scripts in the second grade. About a month ago, he decided to pursue his passions again and write full-time. Along with script writing, he freelance writes for blogs, and also teaches music.
For the musical, Haynes used skills such as set design, light design, music writing and more. He credits Trevecca for teaching him about big ideas, but also the dozens of small things that end up coming together to create theatre.
“Under the tutelage of Jeff Frame, I learned a lot of things,” Haynes said. “I also took a songwriting class with Kim McLean [at Trevecca]. She said something like, ‘A chorus needs to soar,’ and I thought, I know exactly what you mean.”
Haynes said Trevecca also provided him with the space and community to be creative.
“I was encouraged to make my own art and there was an audience for it,” Haynes said. “Even if I just give it to my professor or have my classmate read it, there’s this environment where if I write something or do something, there’s a critique partner for it.”
Haynes is not the only Trevecca alumni taking part in the production. Joey Hutton (’15), Montgomery Sparrow (’15), Miranda Vaque (’17) and Caleb Dinger (’17), are also involved.
“I feel like I’m living my calling. I’ve been able to live my calling to perform,” Haynes said. “But now finally I’ve been able to live my calling of putting on a musical that I wrote. It’s surreal.”
The cast of Greener Pastures will take the stage on July 19, 20, 26 and 27 in the black box theatre at Springhouse Theatre. Each performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 at Springhousetheatre.com.