Professor continues acting, teaching craft at Eastern


File Photo

Anne Thibault, an acting professor at Eastern, and Illinois State University alum Andy Hudson interact during the EIU Theatre Arts production of “The Good Person on Setzuan” at The Black Box in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

After  nearly 20 years of directing, playwriting and acting, Anne Thibault said people are always going to call theater a “dying” art form, but part of her job is to keep it relevant.

Thibault, an acting professor who came to Eastern last semester and recently took the lead roles in students’ adaption of “The Good Person of Setzuan,” said theater is a form of science and creative expression.

One of her goals is to find ways to keep the art of theater fresh. Thibault said she toured for two years with the National Shakespeare Company playing Lady Macbeth, which she admits was good for her career.

“It’s a job. You show up everyday and you have to show up with the same excitement,” Thibault said.

Thibault said while on the road it is not uncommon to come across people with strong opinions and big egos, but the trick is to figure out how to work in sync and create art together.

While playing Lady Macbeth, Thibault was in Salzburg, Austria and was able to perform the play in the house in “Sounds of Music.” Thibault said acting in the house was a special moment because of the amount of performance spaces.

Thibault said one of the differences she has seen with audiences internationally is their appreciation for theater. She said the art form is supported more internationally where audiences have seen more of it; they also practice more than Americans do.

While she was working abroad, she met actors who spent seven months working on a single play and someone who worked for three years on another; Thibault said her crew rehearsed for about four weeks.

“They really do see it as a laboratory as well as entertainment,” Thibault said.

She was able to see many types of audiences, and because she loves Shakespeare, she enjoyed and continues finding ways to make theater more contemporary, Thibault said.

“It really woke a lot of people up. We read a lot of Shakespeare in high school — it’s not supposed to be read; it’s supposed to be performed,” Thibault said.

Thibault said while she was in Alaska, she was an associate artistic director for the Shakespeare Theatre and found the people in the state were creative and special to her.

While Thibault was in Alaska, she remembered she was directing “Hamlet,” and when the show ended a man came up to her in tears, shocked because of the deaths in the play; she said it was most likely because it was his first time experiencing a play from Shakespeare.

“I can’t believe they died,” Thibault remembered the man saying.

Thibault has spent more than two decades acting, which has allowed her the time to think back on her favorite performances and actors. She said her favorite theater performance was Janet McTeer in “A Doll’s House,” which she has seen five times at least. However, Thibault said her personal favorite performance that she has done was the role of Catherine in “Proof.”

She said the journey her character went through with her father and how funny and crazy the roles were made her enjoy the storyline and performance.

One of the challenges she continues to see in acting while in her tenure of performing is the lack of female-speaking roles. She said theater is still a male-dominated field with men still outnumbering women in the art form.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]