I just completed my third year as Chair of Lipscomb University’s Department of Theatre — whew! We made it! It was a very full year. I produce every show in our season, and this year included The 39 Steps, Beauty and the Beast, Peter and the Starcatcher, Elevate: Still I Rise (dance concert), and an all-female Richard II, co-produced with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. I also had the pleasure of performing one of my favorite roles, Northumberland, in Richard II. It’s been a full year, for sure!
My first year as Chair was all about listening. Really, all three years have been about that. Listening to faculty, listening to students, listening to the dean, listening to the patrons, listening to Nashville theatre, and listening to God. I’ve also been listening to the machine of the university and department. I hope to soon function like a well-oiled machine, because I believe that creativity flourishes in well-structured environments. That’s not to say it can’t flourish under less-than-ideal circumstances; this is often the case in theatre, and we all push through to find the sweet spot. But what if we didn’t have to “push through” so much? What if we had enough structure and support to really spread our wings and fly?
I love what I do. It’s hard. I teach 18 hours a year, cast the vision for the department, run the budgets, serve in recruiting and marketing, develop the degrees, serve on the Academic Curriculum Team, direct one show per year, produce all of the shows, and much more. Oh, and then there’s my real job: connecting with the students and leading the faculty. It’s a wild time, but as I told my dean the other day, the joy of the work is in the problem-solving. It’s not kittens and rainbows all the time, but those moments where we figure things out are extremely valuable. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give something here. I learn so much too.
This is the first year I’ve felt any courage to listen to my instincts, like maybe I really have something to offer here. So before I head off into a summer of planning and strategizing for next year, I will celebrate all that my department and I have accomplished this year. HUZZAH!
Oh, did I mention my twins just turned one and my daughter turns six this week? Wild times.