Faculty from The University of Alabama’s department of theatre and dance will help guide students as they bring to life “The Philadelphia Story” with opening night slated for Valentine’s Day.
Set in 1930s Philadelphia, the romantic comedy follows the privileged daughter of the Lord family who created quite the scandal, divorcing her husband and arranging to remarry. While theatergoers will get to know the characters being portrayed on stage, we’d like to take you behind-the-scenes for a deeper look into the faculty who helped inspire the students provide the magic seen on stage.
Annie G. Levy, director of “The Philadelphia Story”
Assistant Professor of Theatre, head of the MFA Directing program
First year at UA
Q. What led you to teaching?
A. Originally from New York City, I’ve been a freelance theater director since I graduated from undergrad. When I was 23 or 24, I was selected for a training program that places working artists into NYC public school classrooms to offer both arts classes and arts integrated curriculum. Teaching you how to teach, how to structure a syllabus, write a lesson plan, etc. was a large part of the training. I loved it and it became part of my life as a working artist. Then, when I was working toward my MFA, I developed and taught courses at an area community college. I started my career as a college adjunct as soon as I graduated.
Q. What did you do before teaching?
A. I’ve been directing and teaching since I graduated from undergrad, many years ago, so it’s hard for me to think about a time “before teaching.” I have worked as a director and/or educator for multiple organizations back home in NYC. In terms of other jobs I’ve had, I worked for both a commercial Broadway producer and a nonprofit off-Broadway theater, once upon a time.
Q. What do you enjoy most about theater?
A. When I was still an undergrad, I got to work a gala where Angela Lansbury was receiving a lifetime achievement award. She said in her acceptance speech that, at its core, theater, at whatever level it’s being produced at (from Broadway houses to tiny community theaters) is always about “family, trust and love.” I agree with this sentiment completely and it’s why I make theater.
Q. Out of all student productions you’ve been involved with at UA, what has been your favorite and why?
A. I have just joined the faculty here at UA and this is my first production for my department. I have been directing for nearly 20 years and what I always look forward to is the way that the audience completes the process. It’s not a production until there is a live audience taking the story as it is told. No matter what genre of play, I always enjoy being a part of the audience’s shared experience of witnessing it.
Q. What is the most important thing you hope your students take away from their participation in each production?
A. The most important aspect to me, as a director working with student actors is that the actors are not just creating and playing a character; they are creating and telling a story. Additionally, understanding the focus, discipline and presence needed in order to be effective on stage: Acting is not easy – good actors just make it look easy.
“The Philadelphia Story” runs Feb. 14-18 with a 7:30 p.m. showtime and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Feb. 19 at the Marian Gallaway Theatre. For more info, visit https://theatre.ua.edu/productions/the-philadelphia-story/.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.