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For the Record
C. Lance Brockman Honored With Showboat Scholarship

Sherry Wagner-Henry

C. Lance Brockman, USITT Fellow and member of the Board of Directors, was honored August 28 at an awards ceremony by having a scholarship named after him.

The C. Lance Brockman Showboat Scholarship was created and named for Mr. Brockman in tribute to his ongoing commitment to teaching and his leadership of the Minnesota Centennial Showboat project.

The Showboat is the summer theatre venue for the University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Opened in 1958 in celebration of the state's Centennial, the Showboat became both a nationally-recognized theatre space on the Mississippi River and an integral training program for hundreds of U of M student actors, designers, technicians, and stage and business managers. For many, it was a first taste of paid, professional-like theatre, presenting 80 to 100 shows each summer season.

Many of these productions were melodramas or melodramatic interpretations of period plays and always featured olios – Victorian entré-acts – that quickly became the signature piece of every Minnesota Centennial Showboat production.

In 1993, the Showboat's original structure was nearing 100 years old. It was closed for repairs and ADA compliance measures. Over the course of six years, the Showboat went through a flurry of design drawings, fundraising campaigns, and contract bids until October 1999, when the money needed was raised and a contractor was selected. Tragically, during the early months of renovation in 2000, the Showboat was totally destroyed by a construction fire.

During all this time, Mr. Brockman worked diligently through the real-life melodrama of this project, and his tenacity did not stop with the destruction of the old Showboat. Scores of alumni called or sent notes and e-mails during those first days of shock and disbelief, and they all said the same thing: "Save our Showboat." And he did.

With the help of theatre department faculty and staff, alumni, the university, the City of Saint Paul, and a private riverboat company Padelford Riverboats, a new dream and a new Showboat was designed and built.

With this ideal in mind (the collaboration of many organizations working together to achieve a common goal), the Padelford Education Endowment Fund was established and two scholarships created: one to be awarded to a college staff member of the Padelford Riverboat company and another for a U of M Showboat company member. With everything Professor Brockman had done to save the Showboat project from certain extinction, he was the Scholarship Committee's unanimous choice as honoree.

To add to the element of surprise and overall celebration, the naming of the scholarship was kept from Mr. Brockman until the awards ceremony. Invited to the dinner as a supporter of the Showboat, he was astonished to find friend and fellow USITT member Larry Hill, as well as his brother, Bruce Brockman, part of the audience. Along with family and friends from all over the country, fellow University of Minnesota colleagues and USITT members Jean Montgomery and Kathy Stewart were also a big part of the celebration.

Professor Brockman was rendered somewhat speechless (not an easy task, as many who know him would fondly confess), convincing everyone assembled that they had truly pulled off a surprise.

"What a wonderful honor," Mr. Brockman said during his acceptance, "and what a truly perfect way to be honored. As a teacher, for me, it has always been about the students. Creating a scholarship is the best tribute I could imagine."

Because of the surprise, the announcement of the fund could not be revealed previously through USITT publications.  However, to date the campaign has raised almost $25,000 in individual support in just three months of active fundraising. The goal is $100,000.

Anyone interested in contributing to the Brockman Showboat Scholarship can do so by sending a check made payable to the Padelford Education Fund, c/o Sherry Wagner-Henry, 110 Rarig Center, 330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455 or write for more information.

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Professor C. Lance Brockman stands with Nick Harazin, the first Brockman Showboat Scholarship winner, during a special evening when Mr. Brockman learned the scholarship would be named in his honor.