Shaving for a cause

Written by Muleskinner Staff


(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Jeff Peltz has had a mustache for decades.

Over the course of 26 years, his wife has only seen him without a mustache once. His daughter can’t imagine him without facial hair. His students wonder what he would look like if he shaved his face. A fundraiser for UCM’s department of theater and dance could force him to let go of his mustache for good.

Peltz, an associate professor of theater, has agreed to shave his facial hair if his students can raise $3,000 before their annual Christmas party Thursday, Dec. 8. Peltz said the idea terrifies him, but he is willing to do it for a good cause.

“I was asked nicely by a student that I care about,” Peltz said. “It seemed like a fun idea, (but) it terrifies my wife and daughter…they’ll endure it for a cause.”

Michael Benson, assistant professor of theater, said he also agreed to shave his facial hair for his students.

“My colleague who is doing it with me, professor Jeff Peltz – he of course has the mustache and I have the goatee,” Benson said. “There has always been kind of a running joke: ‘We’ve never seen you without your facial hair.’ It was more of a bet, and Jeff and I agreed to do it.”

Peltz said their students recently started a chapter of the United States Institute for Theater and Technology. As the only student chapter in the Kansas City area, they are interested in hosting events and attending larger conferences throughout the United States. The proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to help students in the department of theater & dance attend the USITT Annual Conference and Stage Expo in March.

“It’s the largest in our industry and it serves both professional and academic areas,” Peltz said. “It’s an important gathering place and learning place for them. They’ve finally hit the minimum numbers to have a legitimate student chapter and this year the conference is in St. Louis, so it’s relatively close.

“The primary goal of the fundraiser is to pick up the funds to let more students take this trip, and depending on how much they raise we can also look at constructing local events and having our own mini conferences for the Kansas City area.”

Andy Peveler, treasurer for the UCM student chapter, said USITT is the largest organization for theater and technology professionals in the country.

“Their mission is to be a collaboration place for students and professionals,” Peveler said.

Peltz said USITT allows students, professors and industry professionals to develop their skills and network with other people.

“For somebody who has been doing this as long as I have, it’s a constant chance for professional development,” Peltz said.

Peltz said the annual conference will provide his students with unique opportunities that will help them advance in their careers.

“There’s a chance for networking and education continuously outside of the conference,” Peltz said. “The conference has a lot of workshops and intensives that can build their core knowledge in the field and specifically in their areas. USITT has commissions for every subset you can imagine…and those commissions are active in doing research, writing standards (and) putting out educational materials and resources.”

Peltz said the networking is important because it’s the largest organization of its kind in the U.S.

“It really gives you a chance to meet people if you may have seen their work,” Peltz said. “For some of our students, they’re working at a level where maybe coming in as an apprentice or an assistant to one of the big names would do them some good.”

Peveler and Benson said the proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward conference fees as well as room and board.

“The funds raised during Merry Shavemas are going to be used to send students to the USITT conference in March so that students can get help networking and meet with professionals,” Peveler said.

Benson said the conference is a great opportunity but it’s not cheap.

“There are conference fees involved for students in addition to the hotel and travel,” Benson said. “Where it’s being held, hotel rooms can be anywhere from $150 to $200 a night, per person. That can be prohibitive, but the goal is to help them raise the funds and this is a means of helping them accomplish that.”

The UCM USITT student chapter will continue to accept donations until their Christmas party. Students, professors and alumni who are interested in contributing to Merry Shavemas should contact Elizabeth Pecher at [email protected] or Andy Peveler at [email protected] for more information.