Retirement Message From William (Bill) Marshall

One sunny day in 1979 I walked into a theatre to get involved in a campus production. That serendipitous beginning was the start of a 40-year career. It became clear the study of theatre would allow me to combine both my love of storytelling with my creative life. I wrapped my entire college education around theatre art, ultimately receiving a BFA from The University of Florida and an MFA from Virginia Tech in theatre design.

In 1987 I found myself at Actors Theatre of Louisville as Paul Owen’s assistant. Eight hours a day I would sit at a small table and craft models for the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Paul inspired, and corrupted me as a theatremaker. I never got around to thanking him for that.

In 1989 Lee Devin at Swarthmore College called to ask me if I would be interested in applying for the position as Resident Designer available in the Theatre Studies Program. I only had one question for Lee, Why Me? It seemed a little curious for a prestigious Liberal Arts College to be head hunting me. Lee told me his friend David Weiss at the University of Virginia had recommended me. To begin a teaching career at Swarthmore College would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I took Lee up on his offer.

My time on the faculty at Swarthmore College changed my entire theatre philosophy. I went from seeing theatre as an ancient craft art, to being a way of knowing. Every morning I would share coffee and stickies with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet. Those proved to be invaluable seminars.

Over the past 30 years my personal teaching mission has been to ignite the power of creativity as my father ignited in me, and step back. I have been fortunate the academy provided me a career to develop and practice my aesthetic principles. Being a member of a dignified democracy afforded me the intellectual and artistic opportunity to comment about our world.

As I prepare to retire at the end of this academic year, I would like to thank UA Little Rock for all the academic freedom it has given me as a tenured member of the faculty in the Theatre Arts and Dance Department. It has been a great pleasure making with and
learning from all my colleagues over the past 13 years.

Teaching has been my great love. I enjoyed being in the classroom, watching students grow into mature citizens. Today I look back over my shoulder and see the faces of all my students. In the tradition of a liberal education, they went on to become lawyers, and doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers, college professors, dancers and yes, even theatre-makers in our great society.

In retirement, Kristy and I will get tremendous pleasure exploring forgotten roads all across America. We look forward to stumbling onto uninterrupted vistas.

Kristy and I want to express our thanks for all the wonderful memories.

It is now your turn, Bill

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