A higher standard
University of Evansville professor of theatre Diane Brewer has great admiration and respect for her students’ talent, creativity, enthusiasm, and willingness to work hard to learn their craft.
Brewer, who teaches theatre history and dramatic criticism along with her dramaturg and director duties, requires a great deal from her students, both on stage and in the classroom. She finds that they more than meet her expectations.
“We hold our students to a high standard,” says Brewer, “and they love it. In fact, they want more.”
One student that particularly stands out for Brewer in that regard is Maryam Abdi, a theatre performance major.
“Maryam engages effortlessly in class discussion, completes her work diligently, and works hard.”
Brewer recalls how Maryam put a great deal of effort into a paper she wrote for one of Brewer’s theatre history classes. The topic was Ta’zieh, a yearly commemoration currently practiced by Iranian Shi’a.
“Maryam not only dived into the scholarship, but she also took the opportunity to interview relatives who have participated in the event. For Maryam, scholarship doesn’t stay inside textbooks.”
Maryam, notes Brewer, brings the same dedication to the stage as she does to class.
When Maryam played Maggie in the University of Evansville theatre department’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa, her character was the one people noticed and talked about.
“I know the work she put into the process; they see only the magic. That’s Maryam.”
The best thing about teaching
That effort – and the willingness to improve and the tenacity to overcome challenges – is what Brewer appreciates most as a teacher. Even if success doesn’t come on the first try, she loves seeing the joy that final accomplishment brings to her students.
Brewer has a painting – a gift from one of her students – that reminds her of that particular joy.
“A student failed a class and had to retake it. He was successful on his second attempt. Then he gave me a painting he had done that was designed around concepts we had explored in class, saying how grateful he was to me. The best thing about teaching is when a student tries and fails but keeps trying until they are successful. That makes me the most happy.”