Roberts is no stranger to the stage at Byrum Hall, with The Penelopiad being his third show as guest director. He believes his experience with the IRT helps students further their theatre training. “This play built their confidence because they all brought different aspects to the characters,” said Roberts.
Roberts has been in the theatre industry for 32 years and has always enjoyed it. “Theatre has the power to take you somewhere else,” said Roberts. “The moving stories are able to connect and speak to people in a way that I want to speak to people.”
Roberts began working at the IRT as an assistant stage intern, moved to IRT’s marketing department, and used both experiences to land a job as a dramaturg for the company. Roberts has worked on roughly 22 plays at the IRT and three plays at AU.
The Penelopiad is told from Penelope’s side of the famous tale, The Odyssey. Anne Barlow, a senior at AU, played one of the 13 women in the cast. Barlow was initially attracted to the play because the script was creative and amusing. However, she believes having Roberts as a guest director was a beneficial experience.
“The process of this play was busy and challenging,” said Barlow, “Richard was able to blend professionalism and humor to command respect and make us glad to be there.” Barlow also believes that the challenging aspects of the production helped her strengthen and develop her acting skills.
Colin McCord, a 2013 AU grad, was the assistant director for The Penelopiad. McCord has been part of 10 productions at AU, and he has used this experience with Roberts as a chance to learn.
“Working with Richard has been an experience that has impacted my education as a director, as well as a theatrical artist,” said McCord. “Seeing Richard work has been a fantastic glimpse to see how someone else does their process. He did not hesitate to turn to me if there was something that he needed help figuring out. Richard valued my creative input.” McCord believes that it is the uniqueness and creativity that Roberts brought to the show that enabled the cast to feel as though they were learning while doing what they love: acting.
Roberts believes the cast of The Penelopiad learned from this experience just as he did when working with other professionals. “The cast made bold choices and felt the freedom to explore and find something that told the story better,” said Roberts.
Roberts is pleased with his third experience as a guest director for the AU Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance. “There is always another side to a story. This play has beautiful writing with extraordinary ideas and expression of emotions,” he said. “In this play, we were taught to never assume you know the truth. Always explore and look at all angles. Take a look at the other side of the story and search for the answers.”
— Allison Kohl is a junior from Springfield, Ohio, majoring in communications arts. Kohl is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.