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Dr. Cory Johnson Performs with St. Ambrose Theatre Students

two actors

Cory Johnson (background) as the Duchess

May 2017


St. Ambrose professor Corinne Johnson, PhD, recently took the stage for the first time (in a long time) as an actor here at St. Ambrose. Dr. Johnson, or Cory as her students refer to her, is normally seen directing or producing the many shows that grace the stage in Allaert Auditorium. This time, in the most recent production of Richard III, along with being the producer, Johnson found herself in the cast alongside her students.

Richard III was guest directed by Ron Clark of Iowa City, who is a friend of Johnson's. He asked if she would play the role of the Duchess, Richard's mother. Clark and Johnson have worked together before, so he was familiar with her capabilities.

"I always love working with Ron Clark, as he truly cherishes his actors," said Johnson on her experience with Clark. She also said that working in the show was somewhat of a "relief" to not have to be the director and worry about everyone. While she was also producer of the show (the person who checks in every so often to make sure everything is on track), her main responsibility as an actor was to just worry about herself. This was a huge lift of responsibility compared to usual!

Along with working with a great director, Johnson was excited to be acting alongside her students. "It was great being part of the ensemble and being able to attempt to practice what I preach."

Johnson had a lot of fun working with her beloved students and leading by example. She also felt pressure at times to make sure she met expectations for everything she'd been teaching. But, her students say she set a strong precedent.

"She lead by example well," said senior Max Moline. "She kept up proper backstage etiquette and was prepared for every rehearsal."

Moline, along with other students, believed that Johnson did an excellent job of sticking to her role as an actor. "She did her job and was humble and quiet about it," said senior Jordan Webster-Moore.

While Johnson did an excellent job of playing her character, she acknowledged and stated its smaller role in the grand scheme. There was no moment where she upstaged or outshined any of her castmates inappropriately. Both Johnson and her students learned from and enjoyed the experience immensely.

While Johnson truly did enjoy her time back on the stage, she will be returning to her directing role in the fall with Picasso at the Lapin Agile and again in the spring with the musical Cabaret. From her statements, it sounds like she is not opposed to the idea of acting with her students again in the future if the opportunity were to arise. For now, she will take the new knowledge she has gained and apply it to her teachings in acting and other theatre classes as well as future productions she will soon direct.

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