My Life in the Theatre
Long before I began writing romance novels, I had a whole other career in another romantic form of creativity—the world of theatre. My love of the stage began in 3rd grade when I created a puppet show based on a children’s story I had written (my first effort at prose fiction was called Miss Priss Finds a Kitten). In fourth grade, I did an adapted script for another children’s book called The Littlest Witch, and in a high school English class I gave a very bad presentation of Edward Albee’s The Sandbox (which I certainly did NOT understand at the time).
Outside class projects, however, I fell in love with theatre in Mr. Zaruba’s Driver’s Ed class when he described the plays he was directing for the high school. I volunteered to be the follow-spot operator, and a career was born. I ran lights throughout my high school years and was convinced I would go to college to study technical theatre become a techie. (I did have one role on stage, Juror Five in 12 Angry Men—adapted as 12 Angry Jurors—in which I had fun, but not as much fun as off stage.)
When I got to college, however, I discovered early on that a career in lighting was simply too technical for me. I stage managed (ran the show and called the light and sound cues) and enjoyed that very much, but when I volunteered to be the assistant director for a friend’s boyfriend, I was completely hooked on directing. The first plays I directed were two one acts—written again by me and a friend—and the day of the first show there was a blizzard and only six people showed up in the audience.
From there I went on to direct other shows I enjoyed—The Chalk Garden, No Exit, Annie Get Your Gun (my first paid directing job for a local high school). I ended up going back to school and getting a Master of Fine Arts in Directing and I have been directing something ever since. After getting a Ph.D. in Theatre History, Theory, and Criticism, I accepted a job at a small college in Virginia and have been happily teaching theatre and directing ever since. I’ve directed Shakespeare—Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and lots of modern plays, such as Crimes of the Heart, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Dearly Departed, How I Learned to Drive, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and a dozen more.
Now I juggle theatre with writing and I will say, they are two full-time jobs. But I wouldn’t trade either world for the other, or my life in the theatre.