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Doug Powers, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Theatre

In the arts, student/teacher collaboration really determines our identity as teachers and scholars. I’m directing three shows a year, so I feel like I have about 100 research assistants all year long. These are students I see seven days a week, four hours a night, sometimes for six weeks on end. And the relationship is, by design, meant to be very collegial and a safe place to be creative and take risks.

People say that I like to mess with things. So I did The Importance of Being Earnest and gender-reversed the whole play. I had men playing women as women, and women playing men as men because that’s what I thought Wilde was dealing with in the play—he was talking about gender roles in Victorian society, particularly from the perspective of being a man who was somewhat closeted because of his sexual orientation. But I also wanted to see how it would challenge my students’ perceptions of gender and how they, themselves, have constructed gender in a meta-construction of gender. And the smallest things would occur that became glaringly apparent.

It was incredibly fascinating. And it moved beyond the discipline of acting, which is what I found so fascinating. It will have an impact on every step they take and every door they go through. And it was just a profound experience for me and, I think, for my students.

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