t was a "standout year for theater at Wabash College," according to department chairman Jim Fisher, and it appears the department's amazing momentum will continue through next year as well. In October, Fisher will be presented the Indiana Theater Association's "Indiana Theater Person of the Year" award for his many contributions to college and university theater in the state.
The award is given upon recognition of outstanding service to all levels of Indiana theater, and will be presented during the ITA's annual meeting at DePauw this October. "This award is certainly a nice pat on the back by the people who know what you do and what it takes to do it, which is a very nice honor, indeed," says Fisher.
A New Jersey native who will begin his 20th year at Wabash this fall, Fisher thinks the growing strength and reputation of Wabash's theater department had much to do with his recognition by the ITA.
"Certainly Angels in America drew the most public attention last year, but overall we produced three large-scale plays and pulled them off remarkably. Michael Abbott re-made Lysistrata and enjoyed wonderful reviews. Dwight Watson did a very difficult European classic (The Visit) and did so with the wonderful work of our student designer, Marc Doshi '97. It really was a year that raised my respect for our students; I'm just amazed at how they accepted the challenges and pulled off such difficult shows with flying colors."
Fisher directed Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches, which received a four-star review from the Indianapolis Star newspaper. All four performances were sold out, and the Wabash production drew crowds from all over the midwest.
"I think all of us in the department are coming off this year exhausted, but feeling a real sense of accomplishment," Fisher explains. "It's not easy to be in the arts here at Wabash; there are a lot of hurdles you have to clear because our work is always on the platform. While that makes you visible, which is good, you can also take a beating. That was my concern about Angels--that outside people would come into our theater and judge our student production."
The sense of gratification and perhaps the ITA award itself came because those who have seen the growth of Wabash's theater department understand the distance that has been traveled.
"If you can measure up to the demands of The Visit, Angels in America, and Lysistrata," Fisher says, "you can do the run of the mill stuff with no trouble. That's what gives me a sense of pride in what our students have accomplished."