Bob Waterhouse serves as the chair and associate professor of theatre in the department of Visual and Performing Arts. Let’s get to know him!
What inspired you to pursue your career?
I began directing plays while an undergraduate and knew as soon as I began working on a project that I’d found a creative home. I, however, came to the U.S. to do a Ph.D. and that work was supported by a teaching fellowship, so I found that I felt at home working with students too. Still, later, I took a job as education director for a professional theatre in Atlanta with a strong outreach program and began doing theatre with disadvantaged youth. Later still, I started writing and staging my own plays and managed to publish one. These four career strands – directing, teaching, theatre as outreach, and writing – continue to form the braid of my professional work.
What is something people might NOT know about your industry or profession?
Theatre and teaching are collaborative professions. You’re only as good as the rest of the people in the room. So, you must always seek people who inspire you, from whom you can learn, and who nurture your creativity. When you’re among people who block that, it’s a sign to look elsewhere for new mentors and collaborators; when you’re among people who help you advance to a new level of creativity, you’re living the best life.
In what ways have your students inspired you over the years?
Good students always inspire me, either through what they accomplish or by simply being good students. Teaching is really learning or (as Bill Siemering would put it) the exchange of gifts. I try to give away the riches that plays, books and other artworks have given me, and the students in the room give me gifts, too – through their insights, their own critical creative work, or just by being there. Being able to watch a student do well – push herself to perform a play, write the best paper they can, win a place in graduate school – is like receiving a great, great gift.
What is something you’d like the college community to know about you personally or professionally?
I’m not afraid to say, “I don’t know” (I learned to do this by reading about Bertolt Brecht, the German writer/director/theatre-maker, and by being constantly reminded that I have so much to learn). I hope to stay open to what others can teach me. I learn on a daily basis from my colleagues and my students.
What is your greatest accomplishment this year and what do you hope to achieve in 2021?
VPA has had some major accomplishments – the new Leadership and Entrepreneurship in the Arts program, Bill Siemering’s virtual launch of the program, two new graphic design minors, the All High Exhibition coming up, the growth of animation, Laura Watts’ forthcoming book – and I’m always proud to be a member of VPA, where I’m surrounded by artists, scholars, teachers, and first-rate art students.
As to my own professional work: COVID-19 forced me out of rehearsing and back to writing, which is good, and I am hoping that when the pandemic eases, I can realize some of those ideas on stage. Otherwise, I seek a more balanced work/family life, and to travel again to England, my other greatest love.