What My Teacher Taught Me

I was trying to figure out how to talk to her. She has been teaching for ten years, 7 of those were at Winthrop. I have never acted in any of the productions she had directed, nor had a class before her voice and movement class 2017 spring semester. So how could I--a transfer student--get someone like her, to open up to me?

What would she think of me writing about her at a time like this?

I had an internal argument with myself for about two weeks. It would be a day of, "Nah, she'll be upset about it." Then another day it would be a few hours of listening to her quirky and silly quotes and words of wisdom via class thinking, "I have got to let her know someone cares."

My heart ached as more and more evidence of her not returning started to become more obvious.

I then decided that she needed this interview-- this article written about her. I want everyone here to know about the wonderful gem of a person I met.

Miss Laura.

Laura R. Dougherty, Ph.D.

Boston, MA

 

What's your favorite song and why?

Stevie Wonder's "As" is my pick for the greatest song of all time. He is a virtuoso. Celebration and hope and promise and love! I defy anyone to listen to it and keep still! Stevie'll move your mind and your heart and your body.

 

Name one of your favorite moments in all the classes you teach?

Oof! Not sure I can pick just one. What is most gratifying for me is when the topic or content is difficult, and students dig in with me and work through it. Whether an acting scene, of lecture class discussion, doing the hard work, making connections, trying to figure out something that they didn't know at the start. Also, the day after the presidential election this past fall, students were wanting to think about the possibilities of what this current administration meant. In my advanced acting class we talked and shared the whole the class. My students were honest and brave and vulnerable and passionate, and that day was about community and who and what artists are in the world.

With the Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies class, a protest on scholar's walk on International Woman's Day.

What led you to teach?

I believe in the power of theatre. I believe theatre, the arts in general, but for me, specifically theatre and performance, are ways of knowing, embodied philosophy. I'm dedicated to honoring the gifts and vulnerabilities of young and/or developing artists. I want to get in and do the work, challenge my students, work with them to hone their thinking, their artistry. Theatre and theatre at the university level is like a laboratory--we experiment and create and maybe have explosions but are understanding our world in new and different ways because of it all. No place I'd rather be.

Name some productions you directed or had a part of this year?

This year I've been working on my own research, I presented a paper at the Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics bi-annual Encuentro in Santiago, Chile. In the paper, I'm looking at activist/artist Bree Newsome (who recently spoke at Winthrop, she is the woman who scaled the flagpole and tore down the confederate battle flag after the hateful shootings at the AME church in Charleston), and consider protest as the performance of citizenship. Last spring I directed Slaughter City, a play about worker's rights, about racial and gender inequality, about sexuality and the love we need to fight the fires of discrimination. It was a big, complicated, lyrical piece about bodies who labor, bodies in labor, the labor of love. It was magic.

Promo photo frm Slaughter City.

What do you plan on doing this summer?

I travel in the summer. I'm from the Boston area, and I'll spend time there, with friends and family, and go to as many Red Sox games as I can at my very own happiest place on Earth: Fenway Park. Maybe a festival to see a friend perform in Vegas. Maybe time in Arizona with good friends. Maybe a trip with my mom somewhere across an ocean. Lots of travel plans in the works.

Fenway Park.

If you had one thing to tell the current and future students/faculty of the department, what would it be?

Keep working. Do your work. Do the hard work. Demand more of yourself and others. Artists require such unheralded discipline to grow, challenge themselves and their audiences, to succeed. Embrace the hard work, big gains never come easy. Go get it. Be brilliant. My very favorite playwright, Pulitzer Prize winning Suzan-Lori Parks said once in a commencement address: (I'm quoting her directly. This is how she plays with/on language. She works in rhythm and musicality of language. So the spelling is hers and it's everything.) "EMBRACE DISCIPLINE. Give yourself the opportunity to discover that discipline is just an extension of the love you have for yourself discipline is not, as a lot of people think, some horrid exacting torturous self flagellating activity. Discipline is just an expression of Love like the Disciples they didn't follow Christ because they HAD TO.

What is something we don't know about you?

I was made an officially ordained reverend from the Internet! I am a a reverend of the Church of Spiritual Humanism (an Internet thing). And I have performed two wedding ceremonies. I officiated the wedding of my brother to my (now) sister-in-law, and the wedding of my dearest friend to her (now) husband. One wedding was along Boston Harbor with the Boston skyline behind us, and the other on top of a mountain in Boulder, CO. Two of the most meaningful moments of my life. The thing about weddings is, marriage is an example of the power of language. It's performative. We speak words, and from those words, the power we give them, we make a family. Amazing ritual. Such love!"

"The central focus of Spiritual Humanism is the rational creation, development, and honest definition of our Spiritual Experiences. This is the same focus as all religions. Our traditions, rituals, and ceremonies are taken from Shamanism (God is the Spiritual Experience within you that makes you the center of the Spiritual Universe)."

-A Charter of the Church of Humanism

I never would have thought I would be so touched by someone I just met, but Laura is a great example of just that. Her hugs are to die for, you can literally feel the love flowing from her. She encourages and has such passion in her eyes when she's teaching! She makes you feel good about yourself when you try in class.

She doesn't realize it, but through her actions, Laura taught me:

  • To never let my enemies see me down.
  • When one door closes, another one opens.
  • Do you-- every time.

Any student that has/had the honor of being taught by this woman would agree. God bless you, Laura. Keep pushing. Never give up! Never stop being you.

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