State College

Incoming School of Theatre director prepares to take the stage

Bill Doan is set to become the new director of the Penn State Shool of Theatre on July 1, after the retirement of Dan Carter, who has held the post for 22 years.
Bill Doan is set to become the new director of the Penn State Shool of Theatre on July 1, after the retirement of Dan Carter, who has held the post for 22 years. psheehan@centredaily.com

William Doan is on something of a clock.

He has a lot to do before he becomes the new director of the Penn State School of Theatre — come to think of it, he has a lot to do after he becomes the director of the Penn State School of Theatre, so there’s really not a lot of time for milling about.

“I’m either getting people saying congratulations or condolences,” Doan said.

One thing he doesn’t have to worry about? Getting lost on the first day of work.

After nine years teaching classes — theater history, dramatic literature, dramaturgy — chances are that he can find his way to the director’s office. For a while the only question was whether he wanted that.

“It took a little time to wrap my head around it,” Doan said.

Throughout his long career, Doan has run the gamut from directing industrial training videos to voicing commercials for the Bank of Virginia. Somewhere along the way he also served as president of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.

If there’s anything we can take away from all of this, it’s that the man likes theater. He also likes theater students. Of course he was going to take the job.

“If I weren’t looking forward to it, I would have just said ‘no’ ” Doan said.

When he officially grabs a hold of the reins on July 1, nary a beat should be skipped.

Doan has already chatted informally with members of the staff and faculty. He also meets with retiring School of Theatre Director Dan Carter regularly to discuss what’s coming down the administrative pipeline.

“We sort of set it as a goal for ourselves to make the transition smooth and fluid,” Doan said.

There’s also the not so insignificant matter of the one-man performance piece he is prepping for a short run at The Royal Family Performing Arts Space this spring in New York City.

“Drifting” was inspired by the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury his sister suffered and aside from the inherent emotional complexities, the show also includes a number of multimedia components that are still being fine-tuned.

Tech support is one of the realities of being an artist these days. Whether you’re a classically trained thespian sporting a motion capture suit or a dude standing on stage with a video projector, Doan would very much like it if you were properly prepared.

“I think of our students as artists who will have a much bigger core than I have,” Doan said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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