MARQUETTE, Mich.—Ansley Valentine is the new director of theater at Northern Michigan University. He said the position appealed to him because of its dual responsibilities of teaching and directing, the challenge of managing a larger program and the “exciting and unique” opportunities related to NMU’s commitment to internationalization and sustainability.

            “I’m thrilled to be here and eager to help prepare students for successful careers,” said Valentine. “Part of that is recognizing the need to change the curriculum. The entertainment industry has become so multi-faceted. Live theater may be the cornerstone of what we do, but it’s rare that a person will work exclusively in that area. We need to recognize the other avenues available—from TV commercials and shows to Web-based series—and make changes in how and what we teach so student can tap into those.”

            Another focus will be aligning with the Green Theater movement that promotes environmentally conscious productions. Valentine said NMU’s was the first program he saw that specifically mentioned sustainability in a position advertisement.

“That really caught my attention because the idea is gaining traction around the country,” he added. “[Technical Director] Kim Hegmegee is already doing things in the scene shop such as building sets with less glue and more screws so they can be taken apart easily and reused whenever possible. Most of this year’s Haunted Theatre will come from last year’s Mousetrap set. She’s also cutting 2x4s down the middle to get two sticks out of one board. I can’t take credit for these ideas, but we will certainly do more as we move forward with the Green Theater concept.”

            Valentine relocated to Marquette after a decade in Ohio, where he most recently served in a teaching and administrative capacity at Kent State University at Stark. He previously spent nine years at the College of Wooster as a professor of theater and dance. He also chaired the school’s film studies program and Black Arts Festival.  

“It was similar to NMU in terms of the number of faculty and the fact they did four major productions and two student labs,” Valentine said. “But the mission at a small liberal arts college of 1,800 students is different than at a larger university with more than 9,000 students. Here, there’s more of a community outreach focus.”

            Much of the outreach can be attributed to the efforts of his predecessor, James Panowski, who retired after 32 years at NMU. Valentine recognizes he has large shoes to fill, but relishes the challenge. His Forest Roberts Theatre directorial debut will be the musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” based on the movie starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin.

Valentine holds a bachelor’s degree from Wabash College, a certificate from an Arts Midwest Minorities in Arts Administration Fellowship and a master of fine arts degree with a focus on musical theater direction from Indiana University. Before graduate school, he worked for the former Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y. He also has a wide range of directing and acting credits from across the United States.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director