August 2017

Print this page ›

August 2017

Thoughts from Mark Shanda

USITT President

They all open and they all close.

When people occasionally ask me what I like about working in the theatre industry, one of the qualities that I cite is, “They all open and they all close.” While I am no fan of the term “the magic of theatre,” I find something almost magical about openings and closings.

As I write, I am nearing a closing, for I am retiring after 31 years of being on the faculty at The Ohio State University. This closing, as with all in our industry, gives me a brief time to reflect and celebrate.  As I continue to go into work each day with my countdown clock ticking away toward my last day in August, my thoughts turn to what has been accomplished during my tenure. 

Serving at various times as Resident Technical Director; Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; Associate Chair, Department Chair of the Theatre Department; Divisional Dean of Arts and Humanities; and most recently Season Producer and classroom teacher, I have had quite a run. I have worked with thousands of students, been involved with hundreds of productions, and have partnered with numerous faculty and staff. I have been part of many renovation projects, including new overhead rigging in both theatres, the retrofit of “found spaces” into a new works labs and television studios, and have helped reorganize the scenic studio nearly each year. I have dreamed about future facilities and accepted the reality that the current spaces will likely remain for some time to come.

What is next for me is a new opportunity to serve in higher education as the Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Kentucky. My opening there is on September 1, launching what will be an indefinite run. My excitement is building each day in thinking of the possibilities that await. Plans for that new future are just now being discussed, critical meetings scheduled to connect with key players in my new environment, and I am challenged to learn the skill sets of the very talented production team that is already assembled on that campus. But I need to get my Ohio State run closed first, before I can fully devote myself to my opening in Kentucky.

Closings often can bring a level of loss or sorrow, but those feelings are easily tempered by the next opening that lies ahead. Here’s how my current path parallels theatrical production. I am sad about some aspects of this change and will miss the most my many friends and colleagues in Columbus. But I can find joy in a job well done, shelve the book titled, Mark at Ohio State, and begin a new volume entitled Mark at Kentucky, featuring new opportunities, colleagues, and venues that contain the excitement of the unknown.

Theatre provides an excellent background to take on a life of change and uncertainty. I look forward to completing my strike very soon, plan for a great opening, and a long and successful run. 


Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at