One-Act Play Philosophy

Working with Texas UIL OAP is one of my favorite activities. In fact, I love it so much I wrote my dissertation on it! Yes, I have a PhD and my quantitative (math statistics) research was on Texas high school theatre teachers, their leadership styles, and how that impacts their work with OAP!

Why would this interest me? Well, My foundation is in theatre, I have a BA and MFA in Theatre. I spent over 20 years teaching public school and working within the fine arts. I directed OAP at the junior high and high school level. I taught a dozen different subjects and found my passion in UIL Theatrical Design.

But going back to the beginning..

I was in UIL OAP in high school. And we were bad. We had a stage with three light switches and bare bulbs that we called “lights” and a partial unit set. No money for costumes or even scripts for that matter! There is no glossing the truth here. We were bad. My freshman year we took “The Summer People” to contest and our leads at one point sat on stage in rocking chairs in complete SILENCE for more than a minute because they forgot their lines while the rest of the cast backstage tried to figure out what to do! Obviously, we didn’t advance. But we did have one cast member get Honorable Mention All Star Cast. You would have thought we won.

I went to college as a completely green theatre major thinking I could be an awesome actress. I learned very quickly that I could be a decent actress, but I LOVED the technical side of theatre. Set design, costuming and lighting were natural fits for me! After receiving my bachelor’s degree in theatre from Hardin-Simmons University, I moved to Boca Raton and attended Florida Atlantic University and earned my MFA in theatre over the next few years.

My teaching career started in theatre, amazingly enough, in the very same high school from which I graduated. My budget was $500 for the year and that had to include 3 shows including UIL OAP. It was tough, but incredibly rewarding and we improved with every show and every performance. I then moved away with my husband and continued to teach theatre and direct for a number of years in both rural and suburban school of various sizes.

Then as life would have it, I ended up back at my alma mater again teaching art. At first I wasn’t sure of this strange world of art and art students. But I learned that my foundation in theatre and my family background in commercial graphics made me a really great teacher of the visual arts.  Along with traditional fine art projects, my students created set and costume designs, and competed in UIL Theatrical Design. It was a ton of hard work, but so much fun too.

In 2020 I left public school life and started working and teaching at Tarleton State University full-time. I am the theatre education instructor in the Department of Performing Arts. I also teach for the Department of Visual Arts and the University College.

But why would you want me to judge your play?

Because I’m good. I have a great eye for staging and the overall look of a show. I understand the technical side of theatre and how the constraints of a small budget or the lack of facilities can make you feel inferior to other productions.

I am also passionate about the students learning and feeling positive about themselves. I truly believe that the practice of tearing down students and directors guised as a critique has to stop. Twenty five plus years later, I don’t remember every word spoken to me as a OAP actor, but I can tell you how I was made to feel. My hope is that as a critic judge, students and directors would walk away from a conversation with me feeling like they were successful.. even if they didn’t advance.

I have had the privilege of judging zone, district, bi-district, area, and regional OAP contests since 2011.

To view my profile or contract me to judge your UIL OAP contest, please see my profile at TTAO Connect.