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Though she loved performing, Stanley

quickly found an affinity for directing

at Louisiana State University, where

she majored in theatre. “One of the

reasons I tried directing was that I wasn’t

being cast as much as I wanted in the

productions in college,” she recalled.

“Plus, the bossy side of me loves being a


After finishing her bachelor’s degree

at LSU, Stanley went on to earn a

master’s from Florida State University

and a doctorate from Indiana University.

From there, she began a peripatetic

professional career.

“It wasn’t by choice,” Stanley said.

“I had landed a great teaching position

at Agnes Scott College in Georgia, but

was lured to California by a friend in

the movie business to take an almost

dream job with Walt Disney Feature

Animation. It was at the height of their

success; they were riding the crest

of “The Lion King” and those other

lucrative animation features. They

decided to open their own school to train

the kind of artists and technicians they

needed, and I was sort of the principal.

As corporate life goes, it was ideal, but it

wasn’t for me. I deeply missed teaching.”

So Stanley soon returned to the

academic world, teaching at Bucknell,

Franklin & Marshall College and

St. Lawrence University theatre

departments until finding a home at

Lycoming in 2002.

When she landed at Lycoming,

Stanley brought an inclusive and

eminently practical approach to theatre

with her. “My belief is that everyone in

the entire class should be involved in the

production. Not just on the backstage

crews, but hands-on, major stuff,” she

said. “Undergraduate theatre should be

about getting real experience but also

building up your resume. That’s why

students come here.

I can guarantee

you that you’ll be involved, and that

the faculty are fully engrossed, working

right alongside you. That’s something

really important that we offer here.

It’s a small, big, theatre program, and

by the time students leave, they have

learned about every aspect of bringing

a production to the stage. I want my

students to have that ‘Let’s do this!’


She takes her own advice. While

maintaining a rigorous schedule of

four productions annually at the Mary

L. Welch Theatre, she has upped the

number of shows at the black box

theatre, known as the Dragon’s Lair,

which is exclusively devoted to student


“My first year here, there was only

one student production, and it was

because a student came to me and

asked if I would mentor him doing a

one-person play,” Stanley said. “Now

we have from five to seven student

shows per year, and we created a

senior project that requires all seniors,

whether they are in acting, directing

or design, to do a full-length play. It’s

a philosophy of participation.” That

philosophy perhaps finds its roots in the

spirit of her hometown, not just in the

spontaneity and unbridled creativity of

its celebrations, but also in its response

to misfortune-a second line is, of

course, a parade of all-comers that

typically follows a funeral procession,

comprising those who join in to walk

and dance behind the first line of

mourners and musicians.

Or catastrophe. Stanley returned to

visit New Orleans the Christmas after

Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

“There were areas that looked is if the

I go




to the

to be