Theater Adviser Retires After 13 Years
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 10:03
Ted Parker, technical adviser to the university’s co-curricular theater groups, will retire this semester after 13 years in the department of performing arts, leaving a legacy of strong collaboration with students.
Parker’s arrival transformed the department from a program with four staff members and no official academic program to a strong theatrical community backed by two majors and three minors, according to Director of Theater and Performance Studies Maya Roth.
Parker was inspired to teach after holding a substitute teaching position at a high school in Montgomery County, Md.
“I had been working with a graphic design firm, but I realized that it really wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I needed to be in the theater, and I discovered I needed to be with students,” he said.
According to Parker, his love of working with students played an important role in his decision to teach at Georgetown, at which both students and staff were involved in the interview process.
“Day to day, week to week, year to year, it just changes all the time, and that’s fabulous. The caliber of the students is just absolutely extraordinary,” he said. “I spend more of my time holding them back than egging them on.”
When Parker was hired in 1999, the performing arts department had no consistent venue for student productions. According to Roth, Parker was instrumental in advocating for the construction of the Davis Performing Arts Center.
Parker also supported Roth in developing an academic program that incorporates co-curricular theater groups. Beyond the establishment of an academic department, Parker has played a major role in establishing the theater community as one of collaboration.
“He brings a rich history and character to the department while still helping to [propel] things forward. He doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty and is often seen working side by side with a student, guiding them in learning a new skill,” Tobin Clark, production manager of the department, said.
At Georgetown, Parker has taught courses on production techniques, stage management and scene and lighting design while serving as technical adviser for the university’s co-curricular theater groups.
“Ted’s role in co-curricular theater is difficult to describe to anyone outside of that world. Even just the hours that he puts in are hard to believe,” Amelia Powell (COL ’12), executive producer of the Nomadic Theater, said. “He is always here late at night to attend our meetings and on weekends helping us build our sets and hang our lights.”
According to the students he has worked with, Parker’s extensive experience in design and production makes him an invaluable teacher.
“He’s a walking encyclopedia of theater,” Laurel Charnetsky (COL ’12), executive producer of the Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society, said. “I’ve helped in making a lot of sets over my years here and there seems to be nothing that Ted doesn’t know how to build. … He can tell you how every lighting instrument operates and the science behind it.”
Charnetsky also feels that Parker is able to uniquely connect with his students.
“When there’s a difficult situation and we’re not sure how to handle it, Ted is always there to ask for guidance. … And he truly cares about us, as people outside the theater as well,” she said.
Parker has been involved in performing arts in Washington, D.C., since 1968, working with the Kennedy Center, Washington Performing Arts Society and Ford’s Theater, among other organizations. He also co-founded The Actors’ Center, a nonprofit corporation that promotes regional participation in the performing arts.
Upon leaving the university, Parker plans to live part-time in the Languedoc region of France, due in part to its proximity to theater festivals.
“When you’re stopping doing something you really like, you need another adventure to look forward to,” he said.