Former Samford University professor, Barbara Sloan, recently released a book, “Theatre is My Life!”
The book is meant to be read daily, with each of the 366 chapters containing quotes or passages from plays, as well as Sloan’s thoughts.
Sloan, a Vestavia Hills resident, said she loves diaries and has read one every year for the past 12 years. However, he realized that it wasn’t there for theatergoers, so he wrote it himself.
Sloan said of the book: “It’s spiritual in a way.
Like diaries that include scriptures or words of encouragement, theater can also be “sacred,” Sloan said. While it is happening now as the viewer sees the play unfolding in front of them, plays can transport the viewer to different times and places, introducing them to people they would otherwise never meet, Sloan said.
Readers of the book will find a history of the theater, a personal invitation, some philosophy and more as they interact with quotes and various texts from the play, Sloan said.
Many of the articles come from Sloan’s extensive theater calendar, which he uses to track opening dates, births and deaths of famous playwrights, and more. He said putting the book together involved quite a bit of research.
“It really boosted my memory,” Sloan said.
Sloan’s path to the sport began while he was a student at the University of Montevallo. He received a degree in English but was part of many productions, starting with “Of You I Sing.” Sloan also served as the leader of College Night, helping to produce a fully written, student-created and performed play, as well as overseeing other aspects of the university’s intracampus competition.
Sloan fell in love with the theater and ended up designing costumes, building sets and more.
“It probably really saved me,” Sloan said. If I had remained a writer, I would have been alone.
Theater brings people together, Sloan said, across many divides.
“I think it’s friendly,” Sloan said. “If you work in the theater, you’re a respected person.”
From 1976 to 2001, Sloan taught at Samford, teaching others the joy of theater, hoping to inspire that love in them. One of his favorite classes to teach was outside of a higher education institution, which was teaching honors, which included many non-majors.
Being a clothing designer also gave him a different perspective, which he was able to pass on to students.
“As a costume designer, you have to walk in each member’s shoes,” Sloan said. “You respect the playwright and the vision of the writer.”
Sloan said when she reads a play, she looks for clues about what a character might wear, things that other readers and actors might not understand. Anything that can reveal a character’s personality should also stand out in what he wears, he said.
Sloan also worked at American Village, designing costumes and training interpreters as the village’s creative director. He also served as the executive director of Seasoned Performers, Alabama’s only adult ensemble.
She also volunteers locally at various theaters and is currently working on a children’s book about theater etiquette.
“Theatre is My Life!” can be purchased on Amazon.