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Larry Menefee

Professor of Communications and Theater

Larry Menefee

Professor of Communications and Theater


B.A.    David Lipscomb University

M.A. Southern Illinois University

Ph.D., University of Denver


Larry “Doc” Menefee joined the University faculty in 1996 as Professor of Theatre and Speech.  Currently, he serves as the Director of Theatre and was responsible for developing the theatre major at Cumberland University. Recently, he enlarged the theatre program at Cumberland to include a Master’s program in theatre which is the only Master’s in Theatre currently available in the state of Tennessee.  The first class of five Master’s students graduated in the spring of 2013.

“Doc” has served as Director of Theatre at several universities and has directed more than a hundred university and community theatre productions. He has written and published several articles in regional and national theatre journals, as well as serving as editor for Theatre Southwest, a regional theatre journal.  Dr. Menefee recently completed his own translation and adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King from the original Greek which was produced as a main stage production at Cumberland in the fall of 2007. He is currently in the process of editing the script for publication.

Having learned drafting while studying at the University of Denver, Dr. Menefee designs and drafts the sets for all his productions, which are then built by the students themselves under his supervision.  His highly professional sets are integral to his teaching philosophy.  Doc’s directorial techniques and teaching of acting focus on Stanislavski’s classic system, and his enthusiasm for directing and teaching theatre is echoed in his comment on the relationship of his detailed set designs and his directing:  “My acting students are like diamonds, and although rough, uncut, and unpolished while being trained, are diamonds nonetheless, and deserve the finest possible setting for their talents. 

An accomplished speaker, Dr. Menefee has taught thousands of students in basic communication courses, and has taught courses in Linguistics, public speaking, oral interpretation, speech for the elementary school teacher, and presently teaches voice and articulation for theatre which focuses on dialect problems, stage speech, phonetics (IPA), and the British dialect.

Dr. Menefee is an avid reader with wide-ranging interests from the classical to contemporary novels.  He particularly enjoys novels of other cultures, sci-fi and western fiction.  Two of his favorite novels are The Count of Monte Cristo and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. His personal study regularly involves reading from the Greek New Testament and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament).

Dr. Menefee is the father of three daughters and has ten grandchildren.  His oldest daughter, Charissa, also holds a Ph.D. in theatre and is a professor at Iowa State University.  Her husband, whom Dr. Menefee recruited to his program as a freshman student while Director of Theatre at West Texas State University, is Kenneth L. Cook, a published novelist and the winner of the Spokane Award for his fiction.  Kenny teaches creative writing at Iowa State.  Carson, the oldest grandson, has just graduated from Harvard School of Law.  His daughter Melanie has an M.A.T. and teaches art in Nashville, and Amanda, with a degree in journalism from MTSU, works with the Academic Success Center of Clemson University in South Carolina.  “Daughters,” according to Doc, “are the roses in a man’s life.

Educational Theatre Journal. (currently Theatre Journal) "A New Hypothesis for Dating the Decline of the 'Road'". October, 1978.
Theatre Southwest. "T. A. 'Bishop' Wright: Didactic Critic". May, 1985.
Arkansas Historical Quarterly. "The Syndicate War in Little Rock." Spring 1987, Vol. XLVI. No. 1.
Theatre Southwest. "Let the Teacher Teach:  Data Management with Q&A". Feb., 1987.
1986-1988       Editor of Theatre Southwest. T.S. is the journal of the Southwest Theatre Association (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma), Region VI of the American Theatre Association
Convention Papers and Panels:
1979    American Theatre Association. Panel: "Community Theatre".
1984    Southwest Theatre Conference. Panel: "Playin' the Palace It Ain't: A Picture of Road Towns and Theatres."
1985    Southwest Theatre conference.  Paper: "Ibsen's Temporal Structure".
Book Reviews:
All the World's a Stage.   Theatre Southwest, Feb., 1986.
The Burns Mantle Yearbook: The Best Plays of 1984-85. Theatre Southwest, Feb., 1986.
Teach Yourself Transatlantic:  Theatre Speech for Actors. Theatre Southwest, May, 1986.
Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z since 1724. Theatre Southwest, May, 1986.
Shylock and Shakespeare. Theatre Southwest, October, 1986.
Creative Works:
"To Walk Upon a Rainbow." Author and Director. Original full-length historical musical drama. Produced by Harding University for 50th anniversary. Wrote Book and Lyrics. 1975.
"To Ride the Western Wind: A Short Saga of West Texas State University." Author. Original historical drama. Produced by West Texas A&M for 70th anniversary. 1980.
"Hello, I'm an Eagle." Author. One-act produced as student production. West Texas A&M. 1983.
Theatre Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee. "Silver Cup Award" for Best Set Design of 1973. Design for musical production of Anything Goes.
Directing Experience: (outside of University productions)
The Blind. Sixth Annual Arvada Play Festival. Denver, Colorado. 1971.
Harvey. Frenchy McCormick Professional Dinner Theatre. Amarillo, Texas. 1978.
The Solid Gold Cadillac. Amarillo Theatre Centre. Amarillo, Texas. 1982.
The Curious Savage. Amarillo Theatre Centre. Amarillo, Texas. 1982.
The Elephant Man. Amarillo Little Theatre. 1985.
Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander. Amarillo Little Theatre. 1986.
The Road from Exile Home. Original full-length contest script produced by Amarillo Little Theatre. 1987.
The Cloudwatchers. Original full-length contest script produced by Amarillo Little Theatre. 1988.
A Streetcar Named Desire. Amarillo Little Theatre. Production set new attendance records for a non-musical production. 1988.
Deadwood Dick. Big Texan Dinner Theatre. Amarillo, Texas. 1991.
University Directing Experience:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Lo and Behold!  
An Enemy of the People
A Streetcar Named Desire     
George Washington Slept Here
Our American Cousin
The Master Builder
Barefoot in the Park
The Rainmaker
H.M.S. Pinafore
Between Two Thieves
Of Mice and Men
The Wizard of Oz
The Taming of the Shrew
The Torchbearers
Three Sisters
Cyrano de Bergerac
Used Car for Sale
Cavalleria Rusticana
The Merchant of Venice
The Late Christopher Bean
Halfway Up the Tree
Love Rides the Rails
The Cherry Orchard  
Slow Dance on the Killing Ground
Annie Get Your Gun
The Admirable Crichton
The Glass Menagerie
Guys and Dolls
A Little Night Music
Come Blow Your Horn
You Can't Take It With You
The Mousetrap
Blithe Spirit
No, No, Nannette
Romeo and Juliet
All My Sons
Ten Little Indians
The Good Doctor
Deadwood Dick Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds            
Productions Directed at Cumberland University:
Ten Little Indians
Come Blow Your Horn
Arsenic and Old Lace
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Torchbearers
George Washington Slept Here
Caught in the Villain’s Web
You Can’t Take it with You
The Wizard of Oz
The Curious Savage
Steel Magnolias
Barefoot in the Park
Plaza Suite
Deadwood Dick
Love Rides the Rails
Annie Get Your Gun
Guys and Dolls
The Mousetrap
H.M.S. Pinafore
Cactus Flower
Blithe Spirit
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Solid Gold Cadillac
Nunsense 2                                         
The Foreigner
Oedipus the King
The Fantasticks
Crimes of the Heart
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum The Tender Trap Godspell The Late Christopher Bean Agatha Christie's The Hollow The Mikado Dearly Departed
Honors and Awards:
Southwest Theatre Association
"Presidential Citation" for work as Editor of Theatre Southwest. 1988.
Theatre Nashville, Nashville, Tennessee. "Silver Cup Award" for Best Set Design of 1973. Design for musical production of Anything Goes.
Sixth Annual Arvada Play Festival at Denver, Colorado. Awarded "Best Production" and "Best Director" for production of The Blind. 1971.
American College Theatre Festival. 1969. Director, set and costume designer for Cyrano de Bergerac. Selected as winning entry for state of Arkansas for participation in National Regional Festival competition.