The Wow Moment
Scott Lank, artistic director, head of acting, and professor at the University of Evansville, holds an impressive background. Lank has been involved with many theatres across the nation, such as Alley Theatre, Barter Theatre, Chicago Lyric, and the Houston Shakespeare Festival, both on stage and behind the scenes as actor, director, and production manager.
Before coming to UE, Lank was the director of theatre at the College of Charleston and production manager at Spoleto Festival, USA. “I was notified of the new faculty position at UE and, after a national search, was offered the position,” remembered Lank. “It was a wow moment.”
What Makes the UE Department of Theatre Different
The University of Evansville has much to offer its theatre students – benefits that aren’t always available at other schools, such as one-on-one experiences, smaller classes, and mentor programs. “We assist all our students in their future goals – whether through internships, summer theatre work, or graduate school,” listed Lank. “Our priority is to make sure we educate the whole person and share with them the opportunities that exist.”
One of the elements that helps with this is UE’s networking capabilities. “The bond that is created while at UE continues for years and years through alumni gatherings in New York, LA, and Chicago,” said Lank. “There is nothing like it that I’ve ever experienced. We all want the same thing – to do great work.”
Doing Theatre for the Right Reasons
Lank believes the students at UE are some of the brightest and most talented he has ever encountered. “They are doing theatre for all the right reasons.” Two such students were Sarah Dory and Olivia Hebert. “Sarah designed Compleat Female Stage Beauty on Shanklin stage,” said Lank. “I cannot say enough about her generosity of spirit, her talent, her willingness to serve the play.” Olivia Hebert, who played Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, was dedicated to the process and became an exemplary model for those who worked with her. “As Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, she plunged into the depths and connected to a humanity of character that is rare among young actors,” said Lank. “Remember her name.”
Empowering His Students
Working with the students has been Lank’s favorite part of his job. He has worked to empower them with their own sense of worth as artists. According to him, young actors have to access themselves and freely and playfully transform into character. The way to accomplish this is to eliminate fear.
“Fear is the enemy of creativity,” he explained. “It stifles originality, tenses the body and the voice, dulls the imagination, and leads to safe and clichéd choices in the work.” Lank eliminates fear through promoting courage in his training. “The courage to reveal, the courage to risk bold choices, and the courage to take on the big tasks that the great plans require of actors.”