The Mississippi Bend Players have taken up summer residency at the Brunner Theatre Center on the Augustana College campus since 2017.
Each year MBP produces a three-show season and a weeklong day camp for young people. The ensemble is led by Augustana theatre faculty members Jeff Coussens ’80 and Jennifer Popple, and Jackie McCall '98.
The Mississippi Bend Players invite both Augustana and other college students to participate in internships. The ensemble includes actors and technical staff, from professionals to regional community members, to support the three full-scale theatrical productions.
Broadway director Philip Wm. McKinley ’73 was the company's founding artistic director and was with the company through 2019. He is especially known for helming the Broadway productions of The Boy From Oz and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
The Mississippi Bend Players is a regional company whose mission is to provide excellence in entertainment for the Quad Cities and surrounding areas as well as educational opportunities for emerging theatre professionals.
Jackie McCall, Producing Artistic Director
Jackie McCall joined Augustana’s faculty in 2019 as the Brunner Theatre outreach coordinator. An Augustana College graduate, she earned an M.F.A. in acting from Western Illinois University. In recent years, McCall has had the opportunity to direct Theatre for Young Audiences productions at Augie and teach acting at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.
For the past 16 years she was with the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana, Iowa, serving as the professional company’s director of education and director of development in addition to acting and directing. One of her proudest accomplishments while working with Old Creamery was heading up the creation of the award winning Camp Creamery program which has provided thousands of students with hands-on theatre experiences across the state of Iowa. Camp Creamery has also been held at Augustana each summer since Mississippi Bend Players’ inaugural season in 2017.
Jeff Coussens, Education Director
Jeff Coussens is the chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at Augustana College. He holds an M.F.A. in acting from Indiana University and taught at the School of Drama, University of Oklahoma for several years prior to joining the Augustana faculty.
During his 30-year academic career, Coussens has directed more than 60 stage productions and acted in more than 30 roles. He also has worked as a professional actor and director at the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, The Black Hills Playhouse, The Brown County Playhouse, Street Player’s Theatre, and Dollar Stock Summer Theatre.
As a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, he has been certified in the use of rapier and dagger, quarterstaff, broadsword, and unarmed combat. His fight choreography and has choreographed fight scenes in a variety of venues for more than 30 productions including Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story and Cyrano de Bergerac.