Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference

A Tribute to Bill Graham

by. Dr. Patrick Tuite

Recently, CUAdrama faculty and staff attended an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Bill Graham. It was a warm and happy event with many CUA alumni in attendance at Olney’s Historic Theatre. I was asked to read some of Bill Graham’s words at the event. The notes that I read are still important today. Mr. Graham strove to create an experience of oneness that bonded an ensemble with an audience, and I share his sentiments. Here is what I read:

“We gather in groups called “companies” to share a story with a group called “audience.” When we gather for a “read through,” we may not know each other very well. We usually do not know the lives of the people in the story and we are going to tell it to a group of strangers. Yet, in a remarkably short time, (perhaps not every time, but a wondrous large number of times), we succeed in building an ENSEMBLE – a community of story tellers with a common objective: to engage an audience in our imagined world.

When we succeed in creating the ENSEMBLE and reaching out to that group of strangers to participate in our world, we create a bond.

That bonding of an ENSEMBLE theatre company with an audience of strangers can evoke a community experience of laughter, tears, excitement, appreciation and inspiration. Although we seek a sense and spirit of oneness with one another, it does seem to evade us often in our personal lives.

Yet in the theatre we have been profoundly moved and delighted to be a part of a communal experience. A standing ovation is thrilling evidence that a company of players can create an experience of oneness among a group of people who are not likely even to have looked at each other when they entered the theatre. Theatre people can create that experience.


Thank you to the alumni, artists, and family who made the celebration possible!



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This entry was posted on September 11, 2014 by .
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