The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.
Troy University First Lady Janice Hawkins’ appointment to the board of directors of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival may serve as a starting point for a closer relationship between the University and one of the state’s leading arts organizations.
“Of course, my first priority is to help ensure ASF remains the foremost theater of its kind in the Southeast, offer high-quality performances and an education program that to date has served over one million Alabama students,” Hawkins said. “Specifically, I want to help forge a stronger relationship between ASF and Troy University.”
Such a relationship could lead, for example, to an internship program where TROY theater students could work alongside the professionals on the ASF staff, she said.
While Hawkins believes her position on the board may help create new opportunities for the University, her involvement with ASF is certainly not new.
“My admiration for the work ASF does dates to its founding,” she said. “We spent 10 years in Talladega when the ASF was located in nearby Anniston, so we learned early on what an outstanding cultural asset it is for the State of Alabama. The opportunity to play a small part in the continuation of ASF’s record of excellence is an honor I do not take lightly and I appreciate the appointment and the chance to serve.”
“Recently, my husband remarked that ASF would stand as a monument to the generosity and vision of the late Red Blount, which serves as a reminder that arts-loving Alabamians have a duty to nurture Mr. Blount’s vision,” she said.
As the state’s theater, ASF builds community by engaging, entertaining and inspiring people with transformative theatrical performances and compelling educational and outreach programs. A fully professional regional theater produces around 10 productions each season ins association with the Actors’ Equity Association, The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and United Scenic Artists union. Productions of Shakespeare are at the artistic core of the company, but it also produces Broadway musicals, children’s productions, American classics and world premiers.
“Three words sum up ASF’s impact on our state: accessibility, education and entertainment,” Hawkins said.
After moving to Montgomery in 1985 onto a 250-acre park created by Wynton “Red” and Carolyn Blount, ASF has year-round operations with more than 400 performances each year and serves more than 30,000 students annually. Mr. Blount’s gift was the single largest donation in the history of American theater.
“The success of ASF sets an example for the rest of us across the state who strive to provide the very best arts programming possible,” Hawkins said. “We’re very proud of our latest fine arts project at TROY: Our new exhibit of Terracotta Warriors from China created by the famous Chinese sculptor Huo Bao Zhu and our International Arts Center, which is home to the permanent collection of internationally renowned Alabama artist Nall. This complements our existing arts program, which includes our new Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance, the many outstanding dramatic theatre productions and our comprehensive vocal and orchestral music program—plus our status as an all-Steinway university.”
“All of this only inspires me to use my passion for the arts to make whatever contribution I can to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival,” she said.