College of Creative Arts gets gold from London
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 02:08
West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts has recently announced a new addition to its faculty.
Roger Smart, Assistant Professor of Acting, will begin his career at WVU this fall.
Originally from Northampton, a town approximately 60 miles north of London, Smart decided to resign from a position in Chicago as the Artistic Director at the Shattered Globe Theatre, to gain experience in both acting and directing.
After traveling to West Virginia and joining WVU’s staff, he hopes to bring his enthusiastic personality and passion to the University and students.
The Daily Athenaeum’s Shelby Toompas recently spoke with Smart about his past in the entertainment industry and his hopes for a promising future.
ST: I see that you’ve been very successful in your profession. Were acting and/or directing always a dream of yours?
RS: No. Originally, I trained to be a high school teacher of drama and theater arts, because directing wasn’t something that was covered in the curriculum. It wasn’t until I got into high school that I decided to direct.
ST: What moment did you first realize you wanted to work in acting and directing?
RS: After a break of working with adults and getting back into theater, I got the chance to direct a youth theater production and a main stage with adults in a local theater. I then realized that’s what I wanted to do. It brought together a lot of things I was interested in into one job, and I pursued it.
ST: What inspired you to take this job?
RS: I’ve always liked working in state universities, and WVU has a great graduate program. After having taught at universities both with and without graduate programs, I think that having one makes the program increase, but to the undergraduate program as well. As I got to know more about what is taught here, it seems like a place I could fit in.
ST: What do you look forward to the most about being the Assistant Professor of Acting at WVU?
RS: Always working with actors. In recent years, I’ve combined teaching and working professionally, and there is always a part of me that’s interested in the next generation of the arts.
Theater has to find a way to remain vital, and I think a part of that is to train actors who are skilled and interested in a number of different ways. I’ll also be working with ‘Blood Wedding,’ which will be the third show of the season.
ST: Is there anything you learned on your journey that you hope to share with the students here?
RS: Yes – communication and leadership skills. I think to be a successful and effective director, you really are a manager of people, which requires skills that are sometimes neglected in directing.
I always say acting is four years in school and five years of experience. So, developing and nurturing creative leadership is something I’m interested in.
ST: If you could give the students one piece of advice, what would it be?
RS: Follow your heart. Whenever you’re involved in the arts, that’s always important. It takes passion to pursue a life in the arts.
ST: What is your goal for the current school year?
RS: Find my way around the building, really to get to know my students and colleagues and figure out the best and most effective ways we can work together in order to facilitate the best possible experience for the student-actors.
ST: How long do you hope to be here at WVU?
RS: I certainly didn’t come here with the anticipation to move. I was very impressed by the quality of work the students produced when I came here. I’m hoping to bring something different to this department and be able to dovetail effectively with what’s already here. Chicago will always be my artistic home, but somehow West Virginia reminds me of England. It’s great to work somewhere you’re always learning, and there’s a lot to learn here.
ST: What do you think you’ll gain from this experience and the students around you?
RS: For me, I always get an enormous satisfaction from seeing people with whom I’ve worked be successful in whatever way that means for them.
I’m always learning different perspectives from students and insights into the process of acting. A lot of what I’ve learned has come from others’ insights and experience from doing what they love.
ST: In one word, summarize how you feel about being an asset to WVU’s College of Creative Arts.