Chris Petersen: Okay, today is March 5, 2019 and we are in the LearningInnovation Center on the campus of Oregon State University. I am Chris Peterson. This is "OSU Women and Oral History: An Exploration of 150 years." We are here with Charlotte Headrick, professor emerita of theater arts at Oregon State University. We are going to talk to her about her life. This is meant to be a follow-up to an interview that she gave with Mike Dicianna in Spring of 2015. I am here with my co-teacher, Tiah Edmunson-Morton and our four students. Later on, once we get to OSU, Maya Bergmann and Anna Roth will be leading the discussion, the conversation, but to begin with we'll start with Charlotte's years before OSU and leading that will be Anastasia Fitkin and McGwire Smith.
McGwire Smith: As we read, you're from Tennessee originally. Can you tell usmore about your family members and your childhood? 00:01:00
Charlotte Headrick: Well, my first memories of my childhood are from Florida,because my dad was called up for the Korean War. He was a Navy airman. So, I have those early Florida memories, and then we moved back to Tennessee, and I was in Tennessee through all my schooling, including... because I'm a townie, because I'm a Knoxville girl, so I went to the University of Tennessee, and I was a commuter. Some of you may understand that. I did a couple of interesting things. Because I wanted to have a dorm experience, I applied to be a counselor in the sophomore dorm. Yeah, I know, forgive the times. I was accepted. So, I got the dorm experience. I was in the dorm for my sophomore year in college with freshmen. Also, because I wanted to get involved with the university in very 00:02:00particular ways I was a member of a sorority, but I was always the troublemaker in the sorority. They'd say, "Well, we have to do it this way," and I'd go, "Why?" They didn't like that. But what it did was it got me involved in lots of opportunities to get involved with the university and to do various committees and projects and all of that. So, I was in Knoxville through my master's degree. I was a history undergraduate, in history and English, and then I was in speech theater because I was taking so many theater courses I probably, that's where I should've been all along. It didn't occur to me you could major in theater at that time.
I have one sibling. I have a sister. My parents are deceased. They both died in1998. That's not unusual. They call it broken heart syndrome. My dad died first 00:03:00and my mother was in August. What else can I tell you? I think I had a good childhood. Extended family. My father came from a family that had 3 siblings. His brother had died in World War II, but my aunt had 6 children so there were lots of cousins, and they had a lake house, a cabin on the lake, so we all went out there. Great memories of being on the water and a lot of water in East Tennessee. My family goes back...I am a first family of Tennessee, which means that my family was in the state of Tennessee prior to statehood. Tennessee is the sixteenth state, just for Civil War history, so you know the background to 00:04:00this: Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union and the first to be readmitted. So that tells you something about the politics. I have, as far as Civil War history is concerned, I'm a southerner, so I do genealogy, it's this is what you do. My family both in Civil War history they were on both sides, but mostly they were Union soldiers. Because people think, oh, it's south it's this, this, and this. No, no, no. East Tennessee, they were always trying to get East Tennessee to secede from Tennessee, like West Virginia and Virginia. It was really brother against brother in the Civil War. But my great-great grandfather, Daniel Alexander Headrick was a Union soldier. Is that enough? 00:05:00
CH: Yeah? I mean, I think I had a happy childhood, and my family... and I am afirst generation. Neither one of my parents went to college. I am one of those. I think Ed Ray is in that category also. I'm going to out Ed Ray right now. You may not know this, because his wife did this to me, Ed has an undergraduate minor in theater [laughter]. Bet you didn't know that. Now you do. That's why he's so good on his feet.
Anastasia Fitken: Can you tell us a little bit more about what it was like togrow up in the south in the '50s and '60s?
CH: Well, again, I've given you a little bit of background. It's a littledifferent than it is... I think people want to swipe the South with one big brush, and that's not a good thing to do. It's very... well at least for me, I 00:06:00can only speak to my experience and what I know. East Tennessee was not like-there used to be signs as you came into the State of Tennessee and it said, "Welcome to the three States of Tennessee." Memphis and Knoxville (I'm from Knoxville), are night and day. Memphis is deep South. We don't sound alike. Memphis is Elvis right there next to Mississippi. I call it magnolia-mouth or delta-drawl. And East Tennessee, think Dolly Parton. Dolly is from just up the road. She's from Sevierville and that area, and it's just 50 miles from 00:07:00Knoxville. So, if you get Elvis in your head and you get Dolly in your head you've got that really difference.
So, I assume what you're asking me, the subtext of that question, is CivilRights. I had no-I probably don't want to go into it, but racism raised its head when I was a senior in college. I had never seen it before until my best friend's mother... I mean it was just... I was like hanging with my mouth open, the vitriol coming out of her mouth. It had to do with the fact that my best friend was dating someone whose roommate was black, Eric. She didn't know this, and I didn't know that Sandy had kept it from her mother until-it was a long, 00:08:00shaggy dog story-and I'm sitting there in an emergency room watching this woman, whom I'd known all my life. We were raised in the same church, and she and my mother were very, very close friends. It was real, you know? But I had not been exposed to that until I was in college, because that's not what my family was like. It was-but it existed. But I mean, Knoxville, and I-I'm going to be honest with you, I did not have-there were no African Americans, I'll use the word black, in my high school and I didn't go to school with African Americans until I was in college. But while I was in graduate school the student body president was elected, and he was an African American. So that was a different experience 00:09:00than if you had been in Mississippi. That's just a cautionary tale. Don't swipe with a broad brush because it's very, very different.
And the history's different. I remember my great-great grandfather was asurvivor of the Sultana, which probably doesn't mean anything to you unless you know Civil War American history, really detailed American history. The sinking of the Sultana in the Mississippi was the worst maritime disaster in the history of the United States. Nobody knows about it because it happened the same month that Lincoln was assassinated. So that story was pushed to the back of the paper. These were union soldiers who had been in Confederate prison of war camps, and my great-great grandfather was in a prisoner of war camp in Georgia: Cahaba. 00:10:00
Thankfully, I guess he was in Cahaba rather than Andersonville, they were bothin Georgia, and he survived. They lost I don't know how many men aboard the ship. My joke about my life is if we're on water, you stick with me. Because my father's carrier was sunk during World War II and they lost over half the men on board. That was the last carrier sunk in World War II. He survived. He was on a lifeboat. So, there's a history. So, if we're on water, you stay near me. Where was I going with this? I have lost my thread. But it tells you a little bit about my great-great grandfather. But he was a prisoner of war. He was a union soldier.
Oh, I know where I was going with this. NPR did a whole thing one morning. Theytalked. It was the anniversary of the sinking of the Sultana. They did a whole 00:11:00report on it. I get this phone call from my friend Tom saying, "But they were union soldiers on that boat!" I'm like, "Yes, Tom" [laughter]. Because, again, oh, if you're from the south it must be this history, and that's not necessarily true. It's complicated. So, I told him, I said-it's great. The history detectives have done a whole thing on this about how it was a disaster. They had overloaded the ship. I don't know if it's a ship or boat. Anyway, they had overloaded it, and the boilers blew up. All these years I thought my great-great grandfather, he's from East Tennessee we got lots of water, that he could swim. No, he couldn't swim. I met one of my distant cousins years, years later. She must have been in her 80s when I met her, and she told a story about how, no, no he couldn't swim. But she had actually known him, and she said that he got a 00:12:00piece of debris from the boat, drifted down the Mississippi until he got to a limb of a tree, climbed into the tree, and waited to be rescued. That's a little family history there. I don't know if that answered your question.
AF: Oh yeah.
CH: When I went to teach at Young Harris College in Georgia, there was a manthere, his name is Loman Shook, he's not with us anymore. Loman came up to me, as I told people I can't speak standard American English at will, he came up to me and said, "Well, what kind of Yankee are you?" I looked him and I said, "Loman, I'm not a Yankee. I am from Tennessee, and furthermore," his last name's Shook, I said, "There are Shooks in my family." He liked me ever since that day [laughter]. There's a place coming from Sevierville into Knoxville called Shooks 00:13:00Gap, so that's family tree there, too. Like I said, my family goes back in East Tennessee, and when my friend the mad genealogist was doing it, the first family of Tennessee for me, I wanted to bring in my niece and nephew so they had their certificates as first families, and he said because he was such a scientist about the genealogy he brought them in on two different lines, because as he said this opens it up for other people. We can get into the first families of Tennessee through my mother's line like [claps hands] that. He said, "No, no, no. We want to do the Headrick line." Fine. So, he did. So, I know about those ancestors.
I'm French Huguenot. I got four lines of French Huguenot. Eudora Welty used to00:14:00say, when she did her ancestry, she said, Einya and a smattering of French Huguenot, which is not unusual. Those are fierce French Protestants. There's four lines, and the earliest ancestor that I know-my friend Carl went back; I hired him to do this-1699 one of the Huguenots came into this country, into New York City. That's as far back as I go. Somebody said to me, I was telling that to a British person, they said, "Oh, you're a real American." I'm like, "Oh, no, no, no, no. Only the Native Americans, the Indians, are the real Americans. Not me. We've been here a long time, but it doesn't count." Anything else?
McGwire Smith: I think we're good for that question. Can you tell us more aboutyour experience with your father being in the military?
MS: Will you? [laughter]
CH: My father would say, "There's your way. There's my way. There's the rightway. There's the wrong way. We're going to do it the Navy way." That was there. 00:15:00
He stayed in the Navy reserves until he aged out, then he couldn't stay in thereserves. He loved the military. What else can I tell you about him? Oh, well, when my father died, my sister said...my parents were from a different generation, and of course we had burial plots. That's the last thing I've still got to do, and my parents died in 1998 is I've got to sell two burial plots, which I told my sister she could do it, she could keep the money, because they bought 4, not knowing that my sister and I went [makes "no" noise], ecological, green, we're not going to go in the ground. My sister said to me, "I don't know what to bury Dad in." I said, "We had that conversation. He's going to be buried in his dress blues," and he was. It was just always there in the background. I 00:16:00was-this tells you about-and I don't know that this is true or not-I was directing Angels in America. No, it wasn't Angels in America, it was The Laramie Project. And I had what we call in the theater, business is, what you do with your hands, or you're doing on stage, moving around, and I had, I said, and I gave her a basket of laundry to use as she was telling this story on stage. And I said, "Huh-uh, you've got to fold towels this way." She was just folding in squares. And I said, "No, you fold, then you fold, then you do in thirds." And somebody said to me, I didn't know this, this is how I fold, and they said, "That's military style folding." And I went, "No, I didn't know that!" But that's how we folded towels in my house. There's those things. I didn't know 00:17:00that until I was an adult. Somebody told me, "All I knew was it took her longer to do it, but it's really neat and she could stack them up instead of just [makes hand noise] like that." I think you come from a military family...and my father wasn't being stationed and moving around; he was in reserves, so once a month he went down to Atlanta, to Dobbins Air Force Base, where the Navy had a unit and he would be a weekend warrior for that once a month. I guess there's more subtle ways that the military had-but that story about "There's your way, my way, right way, wrong way, we're going to do it the Navy way," tells it all.
AF: So, what's the story of Corvallis? How did your parents end up here insteadof in Camp Adair?
CH: Navy. Wasn't army.00:18:00
AF: Oh, right. Okay.
CH: People don't know that. They don't know the history. In the defense of thePacific, the Navy had little air stations from the Canadian border down to the Mexican line, and they moved those sailors up and down the-my parents were, my father told stories about, talk about climate change-about throwing snowballs on top of Mt. Rainier in July. I don't think you can do that anymore. They were up there, way up in Canada, and then they were way down. That's what the Navy did. Bill Wilkins, former dean of the College of Liberal Arts, if I'm not mistaken, I think the Navy airmen built the airport here. My father's ship was sunk, but the 00:19:00Navy doesn't get rid of you. Your ship sunk? We just send you someplace else. They had no children, and so my mother followed him out and she told me she worked at the post office, the U.S. Post Office. And everybody thinks, oh, Adair. No, there was a contingent of Navy sailors here, and my father said when VJ Day happened that they were dancing in the street, drunk, in front of the courthouse. Which leads us to another story. My mother was a Teetotaler. She would go to, I have no idea if this is on the Dicianna...anyway, she would go-Albany was wet. She would get the orders for the sailors, go to Albany, get their booze for them, which embarrassed her totally, because she just, alcohol... she'd seen the terrors of alcohol growing up and so she was a Teetotaler. The only time I ever saw my mother drink, we were at a wedding and we had champagne. 00:20:00
She said, "I want to taste it." So, she tasted it. She said she wanted to tastechampagne. She said, "I don't like it." Our neighbor, who went on to be a librarian at the Smithsonian, said, "That's alright, Kate, I'll drink it for you" [laughter]. So that's-where were we going with this? Corvallis-so she followed him out. He was stationed here with the Navy Air all up and down the Pacific, and she followed him from place to place to place, and my mother told a story about that they were out here, they must have been coming from Seattle, I don't know how this-but anyway, they got stranded in a snowstorm, and the train had to stop in Spokane. My maternal grandmother, Charlotte Ailor Colette; now you see where I get the name from-two of her brothers had come out to the 00:21:00Pacific Northwest at the end of the 19th century, sort of a belated Oregon Trail. There were still people coming up. They settled in Pullman and Spokane. I still have relatives there. I don't know these people. I know they're there. I think they know I exist, and she said that they got stranded in Spokane and called one of the relatives who came and rescued them. They spent the night there then got back on the train the next day. Trains were running during World War II.
The only Christmas I ever missed with my family was when I was in my second yearof graduate school. The costume designer, who was also there getting an advanced degree, had been in Seattle. She had left Tennessee and gone to Seattle. Her 00:22:00name's Leanne Lockrin Davis. And Leanne said, I want to go back to the Northwest for Christmas. At that time, it was the quarter system. We had like 3 weeks. So, we road tripped. It was early '70s. That would have been '70, '71, something like that. We road tripped from Knoxville to Seattle, and we came down the southern route coming back in a VW with the dog [laughter]. She had a Puli, which are Hungarian sheepdogs. I had this opportunity to do this, and my mother said, "It's beautiful. You need to go." She loved the Northwest. She loved Corvallis. She told the story. They were here for 7 months. She told the story 00:23:00about how people kept saying, "The rains are coming, the rains are coming." It must have been an El Niño year, because she said the deluge never came in that 7 months. It was one of the dry. They must have gotten here in late spring and into the early autumn was the 7 months they were stationed here. Then VJ Day happened and so they went home to Tennessee. They were in Tennessee until my dad was called up to Korea and we went to Florida, the Navy airbase there.
Tiah Edmunson-Morton: I have a quick question.
TEM: Was there a Navy base in the sense that there were barracks here, or werethey living in town?
CH: They lived in town.
TEM: So, they were integrated?
CH: They were integrated in community. In fact, in the mid-'80s my parents cameout to see me. It was the first time they had been back. They drove cross-country. My dad was a crazy man. They got to see some friends and all this as they were driving across the country. They tried to find where they lived 00:24:00here in town. Things had changed so much. She said there was nothing here. She said the college... but they could not figure out where it was, where they lived. Yeah, they was integrated in the community. That's why people don't know about the Navy contingent that was here. But I know about it [laughter]. And when I wrote my letter of application to apply for this position I talked about, I knew about Corvallis because I had heard about it all my life. I said that in the letter. Sometimes-let that be a lesson to you-if you can tweak a letter of application or personalize it in some way, sometimes it makes a difference. I think that's-I'm certainly qualified for the position, but yeah. 00:25:00
Well, I'll tell you about my family getting here, but I had a really baddivorce, and I did something that you're never supposed to do in academia: I resigned from a tenured teaching position without a position to go to. And this is the position that came through. So, I moved. It was hard. It was very hard, because Southerners, and I will say this of Tennesseans and Southerners were friendly people. It was the first time-it was hard being in Corvallis because... I found it hard being in Corvallis as a single woman all these years. Because it's just a different atmosphere. As I said to somebody once-I felt at one point... and to a large extent I still feel this way-if something happened to me in the middle of the night, I'm not sure I have anybody here I really feel comfortable calling. That is not true for me if I was back in Knoxville or back 00:26:00in Athens, Georgia, or those places that I've lived. So, I share that with you because it's all connected to Corvallis.
MS: Can you speak to your earliest experiences with theater. How you got startedwith it? Was part of your childhood?
CH: Yeah, it was. At that time-they don't have this anymore-that's a terriblething that the University of Tennessee stopped. They had an incredible children's theater program at the University of Tennessee. And they bussed children in from all over the city into the theater, and it was a theater in the round, carousel theater, where I ended up directing my very first play in the place that I'd seen my first play. It was Oliver Twist, when I in the third 00:27:00grade. Then, there's an old joke in theater that there's only 100 of us and we move around a lot. I was doing rep [repertory] theater--I'll get back to this; you just keep me on track. I was doing rep theater at Appalachia State University where I taught. We were doing rep in the summertime, and we hired this guy. He was from Knoxville, Tennessee, originally. His name was McCarthy. He had been in the third-grade play. I'll name drop some more here. He's Cormac McCarthy's brother. Did you know that Cormac McCarthy's from Knoxville? I'll bet you didn't know that. I think I have actually been at parties where Cormac was there.
But anyway, my third grade-I still remember Oliver Twist. I still remembergoing. That was this program that they had. What they were doing was building audiences by bringing these children in. They stopped, they still-it's different now. But it was a great device. We bring children in. They know this. That was 00:28:00my first experience, and then when I got-well, even in grammar school we would do programs. They would do things. I remember getting up and doing the preamble to the Constitution. It's not acting per se, but it's being on your feet. I had to follow Vicki McKinney who started-she got the piece that I wanted to do. I can't remember what it was. She started out and then she went to pieces and said I can't do this and ran off the stage. And I followed that and I got through. I think it was the Preamble to the Constitution. I was doing those kinds of things. I was a Girl Scout.
Then I got to high school and I started doing theater in high school. Not a lot,00:29:00but I did some. I remember one of my memorable roles was a clock in a Christmas show. That was what I was doing. Then I got to college and I said, yeah, I'm going to do this. I started acting. It was like, well, now university theater is open. It wasn't open until I came because I came from doing theater at the University of Tennessee. It was a town gown situation. So, people from the community came in. I was on stage with people who had been on Broadway. It was very, very. I can look back and go, oh, I learned so much. When I came I wanted when I was here, I thought to open up the university theater and not to take anything away from the students, but if there was an older role, let's cast from 00:30:00the community, then you've got all that life experience that the students are, because that was my experience.
It's not everyone's experience. But I fought and we got it. It wasn't easy.That's still the norm here, is that we will cast... I think it's still the norm, cast some people from the community if need be. It gives it a richness to the experience, I think. So really there's that inkling. And like I said, I probably should've been a theater major from the get-go, but I didn't know as an undergraduate, and it was outside of my family experience too. My mother, I remember she wasn't real happy about me when I went to graduate school in theater, because, again, theater has a bad reputation. This goes back to the 00:31:00Romans, that well the God Dionysus, the god of wine, was also the God of theater. Particularly in the American south, but then I think she ultimately became very proud of me.
TEM: I have another question-was there a link when you went to school betweenliterature and theater? I feel like I read something, it may have been in your interview, about where your academic home was.
CH: My academic home, well, was in history and in English.
TEM: Was that where theater learning was?
CH: At that time, at the University of Tennessee, things had morphed. It was aspeech theater program. Theater had been part of English at one point. All the English classes I was taking were actually theater classes, was getting credit 00:32:00for English by taking... and the theater faculty taught them that's no longer true. They've split everything up and they took speech away, they took theater away, and they're their own entities now. And English of course stayed. The University of Tennessee is the university that gave you the Harper ACS Handbook. You know about the Harper ACS Handbook? Have you heard of the Harper ACS handbook?
MS: No [laughter].
CH: It's the stylebook, it was the first I guess one of the first style books.So, if you're writing your academic paper and you want to know how do you do this citation, you go to the Harper ACS handbook. It's still being published. Royalties from that, John C. Hodges, the library at the University of Tennessee, the undergraduate library is the John C. Hodges library, he gave royalties from the Harper ACS to the University of Tennessee. So, there were royalties from that. It's gone through-his name's no longer on it. I think maybe it's in the 00:33:00introduction someplace. Various people do it. It's probably in its 20th edition or more. We could look it up [laughter]. It was the style manual and the University of Tennessee gave you that. I have a mug at my house, which says, I can't do the whole thing, and it cites how many Rhodes scholars, how many Pulitzer Prize winners, how many da-da-da-da-da, and it gives all of this and then at the bottom it says yeah and we play a little football [laughter]. They were a National Champion team in 1999. Now they have a good basketball team, and they've always had a good women's basketball team. That's a tradition, it's a great tradition. As I told people when I came here, it's really hard to get excited about PAC-12, then it was PAC-10, when you're a product of the SEC-that's the southeast. That's a blood sport. Very intense. Did that answer 00:34:00your question?
AF: Yeah, thank you. A little jump-could you tell us about your experience inDenmark, on your stay abroad?
CH: Yeah. Back to that, does that answer it?
CH: That's where I got into theater was there but I was taking other, I've hadVictorian poetry, I've had, you know.
TEM: That makes sense. I was trying to figure out if they were two separateprograms or...yeah.
CH: It was one program and then they split. They said, no we're going to haveEnglish faculty do that. You do what you want. I don't even know what the curriculum is like now, if they're teaching the dramatic literature courses. That's really great. Even my Shakespeare classes there was a sensibility about from those, Norman Sanders and Bain Stewart taught me-I remember their names-and they would talk about production, which, if you just look at Shakespeare's 00:35:00literature, but he meant those plays to be out loud. So, you ask me again.
AF: Oh, about your experience in Denmark.
CH: Denmark. Changed my life. I am the person I am today because I was anexchange student. I was in American field service and changed my life. In fact, I have lost my Danish sister's email, and I'm trying to figure that out and get that because I want to go back to Denmark. Because we're both in our 70s now. I feel the need to do that if I can track her down. I probably I can. It was only a summer program. I really envy-there were students who were in the group whose 00:36:00Danish families made them... they said, you want to eat you got to speak Danish. So, they learned their Danish very quickly. We went over on a boat, on a ship. I've got to be right about that. The Envy of Seven Seas, which was out of Bremerhaven. So, the whole group was German. We went over, but they had classes for us in language and everything going over. So, we had some rudimentary Danish when we got there. I was in Uhland, in English that's Jutland. I was up north on an island and there's water all around the island. It was the isle of Mors. The nearest town is Nykøbing. To this day, I can...Jeg kan tale lidt dansk. What I just said to you is I can speak Danish a little.
Doing a cultural exchange like that and living with a family, there's nothing00:37:00like it. It changed my life. The Danes are the most civilized people in the world. This is not being un-American, but I could be a Dane. You know? They're just warm and embracing and great food and a sense of great life, and I think the statistics are out there that the Danes are among the happiest people in the world. Yep. They are indeed. It just opened up a whole world. It's life-changing. That experience. Traveling abroad I think is life-changing too if you open yourself up to it and you don't want everything to be the way it is at home. You learn to cope. I learned how to change my bathing suit on a beach with 00:38:00a skirt. Coldest water in the world. I have gone swimming in the North Sea and in the Limfijord-I still remember how cold that water is. I remember, my Danish Mors. In AFS you use mother and father in Mors, and there is a winery up here called Tour a Mors, Mors means mother in Danish. I don't know what the rest of that is. I think they've taken Japanese and Danish and put it together. I remember I was washing dishes and my Danish Mors said something to me like, "Oh, well, you have a machine at home." I went, "Yeah, yeah, yeah we have a machine at home." You are also introducing a different way of doing things. 00:39:00
Food-you learn to eat and to be experimental and try, and I ate everything and Icame back several pounds heavier because the Danes eat all day long. It's probably very healthy if you moderate. But pastries are... there is this fabulous Danish pastry called a Vienna roll. Which now they're using, there's a Wisconsin bakery that makes these for Trader Joe's and they call them crinkles, but they're actually Vienna rolls. That's Danish and says that's Vienna bread and it's this pastry that's got almond paste and almonds and sugar and stuff. So, if you wanted to taste that, you can go and they have it seasonally at Trader Joe's, crinkle. 00:40:00
It's changed my life. It's made me open to... when you're an exchange studentyou learn to roll with whatever's thrown at you, and if you can't... when I taught in London with the consortium programs that were here I noticed with my students they wanted an American large, which is not a British large. They just could not roll with those kinds of things the same way. They wanted it to be like it was a home, and I think the difference... I've never had that attitude. You go and you... and I think it's all because I was an exchange student. And what AFS does is they get you young, and they can shape you. They did.
CP: Let's shoot for about ten more minutes on this side and then we'll switchover to OSU. 00:41:00
MS: You mentioned you were a first-generation college student. What you made youdecide to go to college? Did your sister also go to college?
CH: Oh yeah. We both are college. It's funny, my sister's an artist. It took herlonger to get through school, and I remember my mother saying, "You got through in four years, why can't she get through in four years?" I said, "Studio classes, Mom, it takes art majors longer. It just takes them longer because of studio classes and all." My sister's 6 ½ years younger than me, and I have a niece and nephew and I have a grandnephew now in Denver. Education was always prized because my parents were children of the Depression, so this was, you know, they went to work to help their families, to do all of it. So those 00:42:00opportunities weren't there.
My parents were both intelligent, smart people but sometimes when you're youngyou don't appreciate that until you get older and you can look back and go, oh, I should've been really appreciative of that. That was really difficult what they did. And they sacrificed for their children to have opportunities that they didn't have. My mother was also a great reader. She was reading all the time, so that model was there. I didn't know that at the time. I can now look back and say, yeah. I don't think my template of parents who remember the depression came out of that. I don't think that's uncommon that they wanted to give to their children what they didn't have. Incidentally, you talked about military. When my father died we were at the funeral home and they said, well what are you going 00:43:00to do? I said, we're going to do a military funeral, and we're going to do a masonic funeral. I remember the funeral director saying it's going to be too long. I said, we'll do the short versions, but we're doing them both. And we did. Did that answer that question? Yes? Okay. Tell me if I go off on tangents. One thing leads to another. Somebody said once about my mind-it wasn't linear, I loop. It's true.
AF: Can you tell us the Frank Zappa story?
CH: Oh God [laughs]. That's a great... there's proof of this in the Universityof Tennessee yearbooks. I was the chair of a speaker program and we got into, there were two speaker programs, and the other speaker program had gotten into 00:44:00trouble because I think they wanted to bring Dick Gregory. They closed them down. This is the era of free speech, so we said, okay fine. We'll bring somebody in, they won't know who it is. So, we brought in Frank Zappa. I got to introduce Frank Zappa. I got to have dinner with Frank Zappa. Afterwards I said do you want to jam with somebody? I called my friend Monroe, who was the person who had the black roommate, Eric his roommate, I called Monroe who was in a band and a guitar player. I said, 'do you want to jam with Frank Zappa?' He said yes. We went to a little diner off campus and they sat in a corner and Frank Zappa played with Monroe, who is now a patent lawyer, a retired patent lawyer, and so that's my Frank Zappa story. My colleague George Caldwell said I'm a notorious name dropper he said the only problem was she really knows them [laughs]. 00:45:00
It's true. I've been very fortunate to... and the speaker program brought inpeople like... I got to meet Robert Penn Warren. I got to meet Saul Bellow. Brought all these people in. It was great. That's the Frank Zappa story. Sparky Rucker... Sparky may still be with us. I'm not sure. He's a blues musician, and he was known nationwide. I was in the Kennedy Center once in the offices because I was there for the American college theater festival and they were bringing people in and they had a blues program there with Sparky. Sparky sort of crashed the dinner and was lighting incense in the room. That's the Frank Zappa story.
TEM: Jammin' in the diner.
CH: Jammin' in the diner with Frank Zappa. Monroe still says that he had never00:46:00seen anybody who could do finger work the way... Zappa was an incredible musician. Really well-trained, really gifted. All that wild music.
CP: I'm going to ask a couple bridge questions here. If you can tell us... thisis an unfair question and it's fast-forwarding too much, but for the sake of time. If you could give us some sketches of your early years in the academy. You finished your master's degree... that's my understanding. You actually have a tenured track position without finishing your Ph.D.; you're working on both of them at the same.
CH: Sort-of, I can clarify that.
CP: Okay. Then you have a couple academic jobs before OSU, so if you can give ussome sense of that time. I understand too, that there's some personal issues that led you to leave that circumstance. We don't have to get too deep into that.
CH: I started my teaching career as a graduate teaching assistant at theUniversity of Tennessee. Then I went from there to Appalachia State University 00:47:00and I was teaching speech. It was a speech theater program. That was my experience. I was doing public speaking. Then all these many years later, about 6 or 7 years ago, I taught in the summertime and I taught a public speaking class, and it was the first time I'd taught that since... well, since Appalachia State and Young Harris College I taught public speech. That was the old template. There were speech theater programs, and they went side by side. That's not true anymore, but that's true of a lot of... like Trischa Goodnow, Dr. Goodnow, she has theater background. She got that because she was in a speech theater program. I left. I taught, and then I went to Appalachia State and I taught but I also directed there. I'm in the archives. I directed there. 00:48:00
I did not have a Ph.D. and I knew that I wanted to go on for a Ph.D., so I did.I got accepted at all 3 schools that I applied to, but the University of Georgia gave me money. We got to be practical, so I went to the University of Georgia. Then I, this is quick sketch, then I got married and went to Mobile, Alabama. I taught at Spring Hill College for just one class at Spring Hill. The oldest institution of higher education in the State of Alabama. It's Jesuit. We left there, and we went to Young Harris College where I was the director of drama there. As I've said, I've taught with the Jesuits and I've taught with the Methodists. We are ecumenical if we are anything. While there, I was at Young Harris College for 5 years, I finished the Ph.D. I didn't go through a 00:49:00graduation because I was already teaching here at Oregon State. And that was '82, and I remember my mother calling me saying, you've got the strangest thing. I said, what? She said, this box came and it's got this satin and thing. I said, oh my mother it's my hood. It's okay. So, she sent me my hood. Do you know what a hood is? Well, if you go to graduation you're going to see the Ph.Ds. they have velvet slashes on their robes it's all medieval. They've got the hood, and your colors are the colors from where you graduated, got your Ph.D. and mine are bright red. The red and the black at the University of Georgia. So, the hood. I remember being at the Old Mitchell Playhouse. You don't even know what the Mitchell Playhouse is. We've been trying to get this plaque put up next to the Valley Gymnastic facility.
It's not happened yet. I'll just go on record and say John Byrne, former00:50:00president John Byrne, said to me, "Charlotte, we should've just done it, and apologized later." But we didn't, and we're trying to get a plaque there. That building, for over 40 years, was the theater. And then gymnastics took it over because they closed it down because it wasn't safe for 500 people to be in. But you can a dozen gymnasts in it, and it's fine. And they can get those people out of that wooden structure. So where was I in this? I remember being in the shop, the hood arriving in the mail, it came to the university. I put it on, and I went running through the scene shop with it you know? Said, I've got my hood. Because at that time, I don't know what other universities do, but it's part of your fees and everything you get your hood. So, I had it. I still have it. I would go to represent the programs and all. Finally, I said, I will never wear a mortarboard again as long as I live. So I have an academic beret, which is very 00:51:00stylish. I have the whole full regalia. That's what they call it. Full regalia. Did I bridge?
CP: Yes [laughter]. We'll switch over to Maya and Anna now.
Maya Bergmann: Can you tell us about the process by which you came to work atOSU and how you evaluated the other options you had at the time?
CH: Well, at that time I had done interviews, but this is the job that camethrough. It was a little terrifying. I was moving clear across the country from my roots, from my family, from everything and it was not easy. They wanted me because I had costume background. Not that I'm great. I learned to sew. My 00:52:00mother was amazed. My mother sewed all my clothes, which I now appreciate. I didn't appreciate it then the way I should have. I learned to sew in costume shops in theaters when I was, because I would go down there. It's one of the greatest places to hang out. Get all the great gossip. They know what's going on. It was Leanne who said to me, if you're going to be there, you got to work. So, I learned to sew. I learned to do straight seams there. At one point I even, I did buttonholes, I put in sleeves, I mean, I could do... so I had that background and they needed somebody. They had no costume designer. We have a costume designer here. When I came, it was two scene designers and two directors. I was one of the two directors. It's four-person, and then they had a scene shop foreman. I was in charge of trying, and you know... we had students who came in and worked and did costumes. It was not, and finally, as people 00:53:00retired, we were able to get a costume designer, so that happened, and it changed. Now with my retirement, they took the money I had and they did not replace me, but they hired a technical director and they hired guest directors to come in. For the past 2 years, the guest directors had been my former students here at the university. Does that answer that question?
MB: Mm-hmm [yes].
CH: I get off track sometimes.
MB: Can you tell us about any important colleagues that you had early on in yourOSU career and then are there others who have become important to you as time progressed in the OSU theater program?
CH: I'm trying... I would say, well you always remain close, I think not always,00:54:00but I'm still close to George Caldwell, who retired with me. I'm close to an OSU colleague who acted for me and sang for me, and that's Brad Townsend, who was the director of the OSU marching band. Brad was stolen away to go to Pittsburg, but we have remained close. I want to tweak the idea of colleague a little bit. I think the people that I'm still close to are many of my former students, including some that I directed in the early '80s when I came here. I just got a phone call from New York from Jim Mayo, who was one of my early students. He was in my first play, actually. I directed Arsenic and Old Lace here at OSU as my first play. 00:55:00
I remember somebody who was a community member who was a graduate of the theaterprogram came in and watched the play and I was in the lobby, and he turned to me and he says, "Well it's good." And I said, "I'm a good director." I was the first woman, I think this may be in the Dicianna, I was the first woman to direct here since Mrs. Barnes. Mrs. Barnes directed in the '20s and the students actually... I mean, I had students who were almost coming up and touching me and going, oh my God, they've hired a woman. Because they didn't believe this.
Did I tell the story about the safe in the Dicianna interview? Well, when theyhired me, you know this story? When they hired me, they said well we've got to tell you where the safe is. It's a box office, we have money. At that time, they had a woman box office manager, Alice Crossek. They said, okay, they took me downstairs to the men's restroom, to the janitor's closet off the men's 00:56:00restroom. I looked at them and I said, it was never on their radar that they would ever hire a woman director. Why would they put...? I got caught there at least once. I'll tell this story. It can go in the history books now. You know Owen Hall? Engineering building? John Owen was a great supporter of the theater and two of his children were theater majors. Matthew, he graduated with 3 different degrees. Yeah, brilliant. And Harriet is still here in town. She's a great actress. Great director. John loved the theater. He came and supported students. He came to see all the plays, and he's British. So, I knew his voice. Once I thought the theater was empty. I went downstairs. I went in, I'm in the janitor's closet, the thing's closed. It was in the floor, and they had something over the top of it. I hear voices. And I go-I better freeze. So, I 00:57:00froze. I realized it was John Owen talking... I'm okay just freeze. I heard the telling flush of water. Door's closing. I waited and then I zipped out really quickly. John never knew that story. I have told that story to his children, he knows. I think I've told his widow. So, they never meant to hire a woman.
We've had many women directors, and I'm the first woman. They gave a fullprofessorship to an art... there used to be... things have changed in academia and university life... they used to do these things that when somebody was retiring and they hadn't reached the professorship they would do it as a kind of courtesy to them. At least that's my understanding and this was an art faculty 00:58:00member who was a woman, and she was given that. I am the first woman, to my knowledge, in the College of Liberal Arts in the arts-music, art, and theater-to receive a full professorship. I earned it. There are many who have followed me: Michelle McCabe in music and there are other people: Kate Campbell, I think Julie Green is a professor. So, there was that. But what I was getting back to about my students, though, Jim was one of the teachers calling me from New York and he says, I'm coming in and I'm bringing the kids. His family is in Portland and his brother, Joe, is just in the process of buying the country club here in Corvallis. There are students, that was really an intense time. You work so intensively in the theater. It's hard work. it's group work. it's team work. I 00:59:00am still very, very close to many of my former students. They're still in my life. I'm going to see Jim in April and the children whom I've met before. I mean, Jeff Whitty at the University of Oregon, he beat us to it, but the first Tony Award nominee was Julianna Celestial. Julianna, brilliant actress, and she went on and she's been on Broadway and I was watching Blue Bloods a couple months ago and I went, oh that's Julianna. She was in, I recognized her. Mike Lowry was on All My Children. I have a photograph from my retirement party, because Amanda came down from Seattle, even though she's one of my Georgia students and she's also directed off Broadway and Amanda came down and Michael 01:00:00came down and they were both on All My Children.
But one of them was one of my Georgia students and one of them was my OSUstudent. Michael's a lawyer, but he still acts and in fact he has just been in Savannah acting with Julianne Moore shooting a film. But he's in Albany, and he came home to do law, and he still acts. People from my past, I don't know if you ever saw a film called Winter's Bone. That's Dale Dickey, she plays the matriarch, she's the one that goes out in the canoe. I have not seen Leave No Trace. She's also in that. Dale has had an incredible, incredible career. And I have gotten her here on campus.
That's one of the things I think is colleagues. When I was on my 1991sabbatical, I was in Liverpool. I lived with John Doyle. He's a Tony Award 01:01:00winner director. But he was an exchange student at the University of Georgia when I was there. John is a dear, dear friend. I've gotten him to campus two, three separate times. That's before he won the Tony Award. Those are colleagues. But they're not necessarily OSU colleagues, but they were opportunists that were given to me. I was given the sabbatical to go do this, and so I was in Liverpool with John and interviewing British and Irish directors, and some of those people are really famous that I interviewed. I wouldn't call them friends. More than friends. Professional... Lynne Parker at Rough Magic in Dublin, I could email her. She's helped me out on academic papers and things that I've needed information. There are those connections. 01:02:00
I'll talk about Justin. We can all in just a few days fly to San Francisco andgo to the Curran theater in San Francisco, which they are gutting part of the inside of it to do a play called The Jungle. The Jungle is co-directed by Justin Martin, former OSU exchange student in theater, and Stephen Daldry. That may not mean anything to you, but if you watch the opening of the British Olympics, he staged it. He's won Tony Awards for Billy Elliot, which you may have heard of. Justin became Stephen Daldry's right hand man, and I got to meet Daldry this summer, briefly, before I went to see The Jungle. It's about the refugee camp in Calais. As I said about Justin, he's going to be famous. They've taken... it was a smash at St. Ann's Warehouse-that's quite a nice venue-in New York City. It's in Brooklyn, actually. They are taking it to the West Coast. So, it's opening in 01:03:00just a few days. Justin will be there. He's one of my former students. That's who are now I will say they are always my former students, but they're also my colleagues. There's probably more, but that gives you an idea. Justin, that's happening right now in San Francisco.
Anna Roth: Going back a bit to how you're the first woman in a verymale-dominated program. Could you talk a little bit about your experiences? Or if there were any challenges to this?
CH: There were challenges all the time, in the early days. I think, because thisgoes back, the question is because I'm a southerner, I have a different ambiance. I think I'm a toucher. I'm open and when I taught my first acting 01:04:00class at OSU, I was getting these, they keep journals, and I was getting these strange things in journals about being touched. Because you have to learn to be free with your body in the theater. It's about being human. It is not about being sexual. Finally, I went into the class, and I finally started doing a position statement that I would give out at the beginning of class saying, you're going to be touched in this class. If you were in a ballet class, a ballet teacher would be coming up and giving you corrections. What we are doing in this class is standard across the United States. At one point, I came in and put $100 on the floor, and you can contact any three schools in the United States about acting and you're going to find out we're doing the same thing here that they're doing there. This is standard. But it was a different culture. I had never had that problem in my acting classes that I taught at Young Harris College in the South, in Georgia. 01:05:00
I think, I had to do a fight to get a community person to play Dr. Dysart inEquus, and Equus requires, I think it requires, a different director might have a different approach...there's full nudity-male and female--in Equus. There had been partial nudity on the stage before I got there at OSU, but not quite Equus. This tells you about culture, too. I don't think anybody else in the university has ever gone, after I directed Equus, which, it was an incredible experience. Incredible for the actors. Incredible for everybody involved, the audiences. Somebody came up to me. I was at a cocktail party here. Somebody came up to me and attacked me because I had done the nudity in the play. I don't think any 01:06:00other college professor ever had to deal with that, except David Hardisty of the Art Department said good, they can fight you instead of me. Because they do life studies in art, as you may know, which involves nudity. I don't think an English professor, art history professor ever had to deal with that situation. I wasn't going to challenge that person. I said we have a difference of opinion, and I moved on. But I was attacked verbally.
I've been attacked on my office door with somebody screaming at me because Ihad...and would they have screamed at a man? I don't think so. Because I directed Stud Terkel's Working, and there's strong language in the play. This person was just irate that there's strong language. We've always tried to put warnings. It's warnings... just saying what you do at PBS-this play or this 01:07:00production contains material that some people may find objectionable. You know going in, buying the ticket. This is the same time you learn there's going to be smoke, there's going to be a strobe light. There's going to be all those things. I think it stopped, somewhere along the line people's consciousness was raised, but one of the things I had to deal with is, as female director, you're giving direction. Sometimes early on in my career, well, here at OSU, males didn't like being given direction by a woman. That's changed. It was something I encountered a lot. On a regular basis. 01:08:00
So, we would have to have conversations. One of the things that I have alwaystold my actors is that anything I tell you to do on stage is to make you look beautiful. Why would I not do that? But the idea of being given... it's mother love. It's going in and hooking on some level and this is sort of... yeah, it's all part of being a woman director. I remember teaching a directing class early on and I asked somebody to put down what they thought... elements of a good director. I did the exercise with the class and one of the things I put down was nurturing. I had a male student in that class that said, you're just doing that because you're a woman. No. I think male directors should nurture, too. That was a concept. That was early on. That was probably in the early '80s. Those are 01:09:00things you've had to... that I've had to encounter and deal with, and I don't think male students would do that. I think also I have run into it that students-what was it? I was always clear in my syllabi what I wanted to do, and I can't remember what the adjective was, but... oh, intimidating. I found in teacher reviews that they all say I was intimidating. I have never set out to intimidate anybody. Because I was a female teacher and I was setting out exactly what I expected that was interpreted as intimidating. I had a student because I taught theater history, theater history is a baccalaureate core it could fill.
We had students who were coming, from all kinds of majors, coming in and taking01:10:00because they were seniors and they waited the last minute. This one was available by the time they could take. I had interesting experiences. I had a student who I nurtured (I'm using that word), trying to get him through because this was a totally alien world to him. He was in sports science. I found him a play-there's a play about everything under the sun. I found him a play about sports that he could do and do this. I think we squeaked him through with a C- or something. I spent so much time. Then he emailed me, wanting to see if I could change his grade to get it a little higher. I went, no. I think because I'm female and I think I'm not unique in this, that particularly male students think they can push you a little more, and you won't... yeah. Does that answer that?
CH: It's been hard. It was a struggle. I didn't go home and weep about it, but Imean I had a student who wrote me a really nasty email, and I just said fine. I just sent it on to...I can't remember what. If you think you've got a problem student or something, there's somebody you can appeal. I just sent it on and said, you deal with this. I'm not going to deal with this. I will tell you something, though. I always... the theater opens up worlds. I've had things that happened to me that I don't think would happen in an English or history class. I've had students come out in my acting class, tell abuse stories. There was one quarter that I had three young women come to me with abuse stories. I got them all into counseling, but I said, I was not trained for this! I was trained to get them to somebody else. I think they came to me... would they have come to a 01:12:00man? I don't think so. I don't think so. That's a difference.
AR: Thank you.
CH: You're welcome, Anna. She did a very fine job, incidentally.
MB: So, we're going to switch gears just a little bit. Can you tell us a littlebit about your interest in Irish theater and how that interest developed?
CH: I've always had an interest. Somewhere in the back of my mind the ancestry,somebody said, oh, you're Irish. I knew I was on the Doyle family tree. Very famous name in East Tennessee. So, it was there. I was always drawn. I even remember writing papers for literature classes, and I was doing them on Irish theater. Then when I got to graduate school and Ph.D. I think I wrote a lot of 01:13:00papers about Irish drama. So, it was there. One of my professors wanted me to write, I had written a huge paper on Dion Boucicault, Dionysus Boucicault. Boucicault is considered an Irish dramatist. He was born in Ireland. So was George Bernard Shaw. It's amazing if you look at see what that little island, the Nobel prizes in literature that it's given us. It's just amazing. Family history, and they're good plays. They tell stories. I remember writing a huge paper for Stanley Longman at the University of Georgia on the plays of John Millington Synge. Read every play that Synge wrote to write the paper. That's what you do when you do doctorial work. I wrote this huge paper on Dion 01:14:00Boucicault. I remember one of my professors saying to me, you've got a good start on a dissertation. I found out later that Dr. Kahan was pushing every student that he could find. Years later, I met someone who finally wrote her dissertation on Dion Boucicault and got that out there. I didn't want to work with him. So, I didn't follow that trail. I went onto another trail and I've got a feminist dissertation. I wrote, you ready for this?: Elizabeth Tutor: the Historic Character in Four Centuries of English Dramatic Literature. You got that? As one of my professors once said to me, you're an expert on several minor playwrights. I was fascinated with, and this was shortly after the Elizabeth R series.
One of the Elizabeth R-you may never have seen this-that one of the last plays Itook one aspect of Elizabeth's life: her relationship with the Earl of Essex, 01:15:00and there are all these plays out there that talk about that from those four centuries. Where am I going with this? Okay, Irish. Actually, there's an Irish connection there, too. Because Elisabeth sent Essex off to Ireland to push to quell a rebellion by O'Neill of Tyrone, and instead of quelling it, he negotiated and came back and she was not happy, and then it went on from there. I liked the literature.
I had started doing Southern women playwrights, having a research area. I haddone some work on that, and I was at a Thanksgiving at the University of Oregon with some friends and Eileen Kearney (that name will come up again), I was 01:16:00telling her about I had always written these papers about Irish drama and everything and she said well, why don't you come back to Irish drama? I thought, well, why not? She got me involved with the American Conference for Irish studies, and Bill Potts, who was a professor here in English. Bill was very active in the American conference for Irish Studies. I did a paper at Pomona College on Irish Gallows humor. It's legacy in the literature of the dramatic literature of the American South. I had great fun with that. I loved the people. I had been involved with the American Theater Association and then the Association for Theater and Higher Education and, I'm in theater. I love theater. But I didn't want to be a thousand-theater people. When I went with the American Conference for Irish Studies, which I'm still active in. I'm going to do a paper in a couple of weeks in Boston, that there is very few people...a lot 01:17:00of English literature people, but very few as we say real theater people. So, I'm one of a handful. It's been very enriching, and I learn about literature and music and history by going to that. Because it's a great conference. I'm the past president. I did a keynote speech this past October, which was great fun. I talked about my love affair with Irish theater, and I talked about my whole history, particularly here at OSU doing Irish theater.
OSU's been very kind to me to do Irish theater, but I was also able to do it allover the country when I went on sabbatical or did guest directing gigs. It's good literature. It's good stuff. The plays are strong and particularly my emphasis is on women in Irish theater, although I may be, oh we'll see, yeah, 01:18:00I'm hoping to go guest direct at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and do an Irish drama. I want to do a play by a young playwright by the name of Ronan Noone. I guess Ronan's in his late thirties now. Maybe he's in his forties. He's a terrific playwright who I've known over the years. I loved his play and that's how I found him. I'll probably have lunch with him in Boston, I hope. It's good stuff.
It's good stuff, particularly these plays by women who were often overlooked. Myfriend Kathleen Quinn and my friend Eileen Kearney, professional colleagues, were writing a book, an anthology of Irish women dramatists, and they had lots of problems with the University of Michigan press, and Kathleen retired, moved to Ireland. Because she can. She has a grandparent who was Irish and came to 01:19:00this country. Kathleen said you can have this project. So, she willed it to me, sort of. I knew Eileen. So, Eileen and I... it was published in 2014. And it's gone into a second printing. Irish women dramatists 1908 to 2001. Eileen Kearney, Charlotte Headrick, editors. So, there you have it. I've been... I don't even know if you knew this... my last foray, well, not foray... I was a Moore visiting fellow at the National University of Ireland Galway, in 2013, on my last sabbatical. I lived in Galway. I was researching a very important Irish playwright. Her name is Patricia Burke Brogan. They tell me I'm the expert on her now. 01:20:00
I have, she is now in a nursing home. But she... brilliant play called Eclipsed,about the Magdalene Laundries, which really helped to break open some of the abuses of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The play I want to do by Ronin is called The Lepers of Balabastia. It's also the opposite side, it's an all-male play that talks about the abuses of the Christian brothers. Which will be great to do this in Pennsylvania, considering what had just happened in Pittsburg. Indiana University is just an hour away from Pittsburg. We'll see what happens there, if they're able to bring me in. It's good stuff. These plays are strong. They're powerful. Good work.
AR: Skipping around a bit-back to Mitchell Playhouse. What purpose did the01:21:00playhouse serve as a space at OSU and the university theater?
CH: Think about it geographically. Think about where Withycombe is on the edgesof campus, and think of where the Valley Gymnastic facility is. We were in the hub. We were right there. Things swirled around. It was just great. It was a central location. When they closed the building down, I was on sabbatical. My first sabbatical. They closed the building down in 1991. I can't remember. I called back Gray Yu back, who was on the faculty then, called Gray and said, "What's going to...?" he says, "Nobody's told you? The fire marshal came in and closed the building down." So, they looked for an existing building. Withycombe had, that was the dairy. It was an empty space that was available, and the 01:22:00university just moved us in there. And Animal Science thought the gypsies had come to town. They treated us very shabbily, and Kelvin Koong who has apologized to Bill Wilkins and said I was wrong and everything. They didn't want to put a sign out front. They didn't want to do... it was just nutty. They weren't nice to us. We tried to be nice to them. We gave them free tickets and everything.
We were moved to Withycombe by the university and took an existing empty space,and that also irritated people because I think they wanted to use that space for something else. But that's why Withycombe ... Withycombe is still a rough building. It's never quite been finished in the lobby area and all. That's why 01:23:00the floor goes like this... you could hose the whole building down because of that. I have great memories of Mitchell Playhouse. I don't know how much theater you've taken. I know you've worked in the shop. The Mitchell Playhouse was what was known as a hemp house. It was actually ropes and pulleys. It had proscenium arch. It had an orchestra pit. That's why the music people hate Withycombe, because we don't have an orchestra pit. I want to say to them, get in the 21st century, be creative and all. They've coped with this, but they don't like it. There was a pit, and it was just a great space. The first women's basketball game that was ever played was played in that building. It was an armory. It was many, many things. We have the narration for the plaque if it ever gets built. 01:24:00
Great memories of being there. There were students who threatened to chainthemselves to the building when they were converting it and closing it down. That was Sheila Daniels, who is now one of the preeminent directors in Seattle in theater. She is just getting ready to do a Paula Vogel play called Indecent. I think she's doing that at the Seattle Rep Theater, one of the great regional theaters of the country. That's the saga of the Mitchell Playhouse. We'd like to get a plaque up that says the history of the building. Which George Edmundston and I wrote and George is the editor emeritus of the alumni magazine here, the Oregon Stater. Did that answer that?
CH: I'm just checking in. That's a communication thing. Like I said, I know I01:25:00can go off topic, so...
AR: Going back to the sabbaticals.
CH: I've been very fortunate.
AR: What roles did that play in your life?
CH: Wonderful roles. I was in Liverpool and then I was traveling all over. I hadgotten to see theater all over in Ireland. I got to see it all over England. I went to see these directors. I was in London. I just got that year, that was '91, I got to see lots of theater. Then I went back the next year and taught in '92. That's not a sabbatical, but I was teaching. I got to teach in '95 also with that program. That's teaching American students, mostly from the Northwest, although we had a couple from across the country who tapped into the program and 01:26:00did that. The sabbaticals, they are also life changing. They gave me connections. That was in '91, I interviewed Lynne Parker. She's still in my life. She's really one of the great directors. I wrote a tribute to her that was in a book on contemporary theater and then when they took that, that's Carysfort Press, they took all the books they had printed about, it was all geared toward theater, they took the best essays from those books and made a compendium that's online. It's a reader. I'm in that about Lynne. She's the niece of the great Irish dramatist Stewart Parker.
Let me explain how I use Irish, the word. There are two countries on the island.There's the Republic and there's Northern Ireland. But as a catchall, I use just 01:27:00the word Irish. I have, I've just had such, and it's echoed. That whole thing about there's only 100 of us, and we move around a lot. It's really amazing the connections. I'm always coming up with a connection. Those open doors for you, and John Dowell at Liverpool, he opened doors for me to meet and to use... the director Declan Donellan. Declan went onto... he is the person who directed Angels in America for the first time at the national theater. Really fine, fine director. John's connections got me to Phyllida Lloyd, which might mean nothing to you, except she directed the first production of Mamma Mia! Phyllida is rich 01:28:00from doing it. She also directed the film version of it, and she directed The Iron Lady. So, I know who directed Mamma Mia, the original one. That was all through John and I celebrate him and he, like I said, he has been on campus as a guest artist three times before he won the Tony award. David Edgar, John... that wasn't a sabbatical, but when I was able to travel and get... I directed David Edgar's Pentecost, and I told John that I was directing it, and he says Becky lives with, her partner is David's sister. That got me to meet which got me to David Edgar. I'm still in contact, also a Tony award winner for Nicholas Nickleby. I was still in touch with David just this past summer. Those connections, it's not only my sabbaticals but also my being able to travel to 01:29:00London and to England and to meet people and to know. The sabbaticals... my gosh, on sabbatical I've directed at Barry College; I've directed at Western Kentucky University; I've directed at Young Harris College; I've directed at the University of Central Oklahoma. I was able to do that because I was on sabbatical. They invited me. I was a guest artist. I was doing mostly Irish plays. If you want to stretch it, at Young Harris College I directed My Fair Lady, which was taken from George Bernard Shaw, so you can stretch that and say it's Irish. So, the sabbaticals have been rich. Like I've said earlier, my colleague teased me about that I did more on my sabbaticals than some people did in a career. Sabbatical comes from the Hebrew Shabbat, which means rest, but I 01:30:00didn't do a lot of resting.
I was active. That's just me. I'm still trying to do things. We also did areading of The Interference, which is about rape on campus. I did that this year. When did I do it? It all runs together. Sometime in the past 12 months I did that. That's an important play by an Irish playwright about American themes. Her name's Linda Bradley. What else came out? I worked on the book on sabbaticals too. I was able to do that because Eileen has been... to get that book written, Ilene... this is the tyranny of the married because she was married I always went to her. She didn't ever come to me. We worked on that book in Eugene. We've worked on that book in College Station Texas. We worked on that book multiple times in Denver. Then it was published by Syracuse University 01:31:00Press. One of the things I did... I think when I went to my conferences I was doing work on the book. I would present about the various writers that were in the book. Sabbaticals can be rich, and certainly I made the most of mine. The last sabbatical I was on, I was partially at the Center for the Humanities, and then I was in Ireland for 7 weeks doing work on Patricia Burke Brogan who was there. What we were doing was a production history of Eclipsed, which was challenging. But it was a great time.
AR: Wonderful. So, moving forward a little bit, I think it was '95-'96 that youwere the president elect of the CLA faculty council? 01:32:00
CH: I was.
AR: Could you tell us a bit about your role there?
CH: You really went through that. That's by vote of the College of Liberal Arts.I was voted on the council, and I became the president of the council because I had the most votes. I think that's the way it worked. That whole system has changed now. It's my understanding everything has changed. We dealt with issues that the dean wanted us to deal with. I can't recall anything in detail. If the dean had an issue that she wanted to bring to us, we did it. We worked in collaboration with her, and any other issue that came up could be funneled to the faculty council from the other committees. I think that's all changed now. I don't know how they're doing that now. I understand P&T has changed too, 01:33:00promotion and tenure. I was also voted on that multiple times. The last time I was voted onto that I was feeling very put-upon. I said I couldn't serve.
MB: Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like going through the tenureprocess again here at Oregon State?
CH: Oh, wow. Going through to be promoted from Assistant Prof to Associate Prof,it was not easy. I ran into problems from my immediate colleagues in theater... not theater, but I think C.V. Bennett, who is Dr. Bennett, who is deceased now, 01:34:00he died 2 or 3 years ago was not... again, it's a woman coming up and the chair at that time, Lloyd Crisp, Lloyd just commandeered it, and sort of rammed my .... I certainly had all the credits, everything I could do. I was certainly ready to go up. But there was some internal fighting which was very painful. I swear I think a lot of it had to do with my being a woman and my being warm and open, but Lloyd felt like I was given an injustice, and he really commandeered 01:35:00it and got it through.
Once I got to the college, it was just a slam dunk because I had done the work.When I went up for full professor, and I did that 7 years later. I did it on track. I did it as soon as I could. I was a full professor when I was like 50 I guess. From the time... I don't remember, maybe it was late '40s. It was 7 years. I remember sharing the chair, that was Greg Walker, sharing with me that... how did he put it? He said that one of my, he wasn't supposed to share this, but he did it anyway. Greg won't care. Saying one of the... and it was from the dean at the University of Tennessee, who said... you know, I had a 01:36:00dean, and she wrote and said, she would be promoted on her creative work alone. The fact that she publishes is amazing. I did publish. Which is not a typical template. We had to fight that fight in academia a long time ago, that I'm an exception, but you should be, just your creative work, is your research, is what you're doing, and it should be acknowledged. It was also nervous for me, and I served on the tenure and promotion committee for the university for the faculty, three or four times, but I always was concerned if there wasn't an artist-somebody from music, art, or theater on those committees. That's changed now, because we're different. If somebody has not dealt with that, they don't 01:37:00know how to deal with creative art in lieu of... here's research, you're publishing books; here's creative art, they're equal. Somebody who's not in the field, they're not going to understand that. I was always a little nervous if there wasn't somebody there. I certainly fought, when I served I would take the art and music dossiers because I understood what they're doing. I think the last, gosh this all runs together, I think the last committee I served on I did Julie Green's dossier for full professor. She's internationally known. Does that? I keep checking in with you.
CP: We've got ten minutes left, so think about concluding questions.
MB: Going off what you said about how you were being put up for tenure there was01:38:00a little bit of debate within the department.
CH: Well, it wasn't a department. We were an area part of speech.
CH: Yeah, program.
MB: Can you tell us a little bit about being the first woman faculty member tobe tenured in the theater program?
CH: I deserved it [laughs]. I'm proud of it. I feel like I fought the way forother people. In the arts, the theater is, you know, our audiences are like a class. Even though those people aren't registered for a class, they're a class. Even though our acting classes by its very nature they're small. I'm sure 01:39:00teaching; have you taken a class there, Anna?
AR: Costume design.
CH: Costume design. It's a small class. Because you're building and there's onlyso many sewing machines and there's only so much room. That is a hard concept. I can teach, and so when we teach the 147, which is the introduction to the theater class, we can fill that 100-seat theater and that's fine. You can teach that class that way. The last time I taught it I think I had 70 students. But you can't do that with an acting class. That's counter-balanced by the number of people in the audience and what you're serving. You're serving the community at large in a way that other programs in the university aren't doing, and that needs to be considered.
I don't know what they're doing now, they've got a new budget model, which is01:40:00making people really scared because they're doing these things about, well, how many butts in the seats do you have for classes? That's not the way to judge the effect of arts on campus and what it does. I believe theater can change lives, both for the people who are there and the audience members and how it affects them. I still have people come up to me and say, "I loved _______," which was in 1997 and it was an Irish labor history play with music. People still talk to me in the community about Equus, which was in '88 or '89, I can't remember. They talked to me about the production of Hair, which sold out the entire run before we opened the show.
I am instrumental in working and forging our ability to sign shows at OSU. I've01:41:00worked with Joe Alexander to do that and make that happen, and then in 2014, going back 2014, 2013 or 2014, I volunteered my time to do an Irish play called The King of Spain's Daughter. Joe and I had talked about doing this all these years, I got a grant. And we shadowed the production. Which means they were double cast: one cast was speaking English, the other one was signing, interpreting in American Sign Language right by, in costume. Usually when we sign, they sign, at mainstay shows, there's two singers in the corner. Much different impact to have those actors side by side. It was a dual-language 01:42:00production. I'm so proud that we did that. Joe worked really hard to make that happen, and she did it before she retired because she had worked really closely with me. We had the first sign production we ever did at OSU was Hair. It was hard. We were working with an interpreter from Western Oregon, and I learned a lot. I learned a lot. She probably learned a lot too. Then there was a huge gap before we started doing it again at Withycombe. I'm off track again. I think I've made a difference. I think... yeah, I know I've made a difference. I'd like to think that I've fought for my colleagues. I've fought for the program. I think that frankly there were 3 tenure track faculty. We all retired. They've not been replaced. Because they've not been replaced, no one's tenured. Welcome 01:43:00to academia, folks. If somebody's not tenured, it's really scary to go out there and fight for your corner. That's something that I did, because when you're tenured it's a safety net. You can say what you think. You can fight for it. You can make people angry. You can do this. There's nobody there to do that now. It's making a difference, sadly. I'm sad about that.
CP: That segues perhaps into the last question with the five minutes that wehave left, and that's about the future. It sounds to me like theater arts is a program at a crossroads. There's obviously institutional change that you spoke of, but also a new performing arts venue coming online within the next 5-10 years that is going to be quite different from Mitchell Playhouse or Withycombe. What are your thoughts on where theater is headed?
CH: Well, they're doing another black box, and that's the plan. And we don'thave a proscenium theater. They should have done a proscenium theater. They're making LaSells a proscenium theater, but LaSells is a barn and it's still going 01:44:00to be...[laughter]. Well it is! I staged an opera there, I know! In fact, this Friday night I am the narrator for the Willamette apprentice ballet. They're a free concert. You should come. It's at 7:30 at LaSells. The stage manager had never been in there and Bryan went in and came back and went, mm-hmm it's a barn. It's a barn. It's a great space for a concert, but it's not a space for theater, and they're not going to change that. It's still going to seat 1200 people. It'll be proscenium, and maybe they can do a big opera there. It would be the space to do a musical. But it's not the same as a 500 or 600-seat theater. You change the dynamics of the interpersonal. Do you know about The Vagina Monologues? They did The Vagina Monologues, and I hated it. I said it's a barn. Because it's not the same as being in a 500-seat theater. Even at 01:45:00Withycombe, it's 362 seats. You just have a different experience with the audience, what's happening on stage and what's happening...anyhow, it's a barn. And it'll still be a barn even after they did it because they have not put in a proscenium theater for the theater. It's being pushed for music. Music is a big program here. They have lots of tenured faculty who can fight for the program.
Theater is always going to be more expensive, just by its very nature. I'll justtell you this. The people in the choirs at OSU, they sign in for credit. So, what they're doing in their concerts they're doing in class. That's not what happens in theater. We have our classes; we teach our students, then we do the co-curricular work afterwards. In fact, I went to see The Little Prince last 01:46:00week. It's very colorful and very wonderful, and so you should go. It's playing matinees this next weekend. I think there's one evening performance. So, there you have it. I don't know what's going to happen. I just I think you know sometimes I think about you know the theater is the red-haired stepchild of the College of Liberal Arts. But to have a great university you need to have a strong theater program. You need to have a strong arts program. I'm not just taught... whenever I had the opportunity, this goes to your question... not only did I talk about the theater, but I talked about all the arts. I used to talk to the freshman when they came in for orientation and they were so snippy with me. They said well, we'll give you two minutes. I said, fine, I'll take my two minutes. I came in full costume [laughter]. Made an entrance! They did not forget me. I talked about here you are, get involved in the arts. Get involved 01:47:00in something. Not just the arts, but get involved. That's part of your college experience. Don't just go to class. It's more than that.
CP: Well, thank you Charlotte. This is most appreciated.
CH: Oh, I appreciate having the opportunity.
CP: We have 30 seconds left in this class; you've done quite well.
CP: Thank you.
TEM: Thank you.