Interviews by Topic: Theatre

Sarah Kay, Brown University class of 2010, begins her interview by describing her experiences as a child during 9/11 in New York City. Kay recalls in great detail the effects that 9/11 had both on her family, as well as her budding interest in poetry. Kay continues by describing her decision to apply to and attend Brown University for her undergraduate degree.

Anonymous, class of 1920

Speaking more than sixty years after graduation, this anonymous member of the Pembroke College class of 1920 begins by recalling her childhood, growing up in Providence, and her father’s desire for his children to graduate college. She discusses her reasons for attending Pembroke and shares her earliest memories of the campus.

Ancelin M. Vogt, class of 1968

In this interview, Ancelin M. Vogt discusses her parents’ backgrounds as intellectuals and graduates of Harvard University and Radcliffe College. She notes that Radcliffe was her first-choice school but after being denied there it was a scholarship to Pembroke College that influenced her decision to attend. She explains the lack of support she felt from Pembroke administrators when her mother died during her sophomore year, and the general inequality she witnessed between services and activities offered to female versus male students.

Clarice LaVerne Thompson, Faculty

In this interview, Clarice LaVerne Thompson discusses her educational and professional path to becoming a visiting professor in Africana Studies and Music Director at Brown University, and founder of RPM Voices of Rhode Island. 

Cynthia Lee Jenner, class of 1961

In Part 1 of this interview, Cynthia Lee Jenner begins by describing her family background. She talks about the contemporary stigma against a middle class wife with a career and the effect of this on her mother and herself. From this context, she attended an all-girls boarding school and Pembroke College, both of which sought (though failed) to prepare her for “gracious living.” She goes on to discuss deciding to attend Pembroke, her tour guide, living at 87 Prospect Street (now Machado House), and her advanced discussion-based coursework.

Elaine Barbara Frank, class of 1939

In this interview, Elaine Frank ’39, the daughter of a Providence-born father and Lithuanian-born mother, describes herself as a “City Girl” and discusses her decision to attend Pembroke College as a transfer student from LaSalle Junior College. She details her involvement in various dramatic societies at Hope High School, Pembroke, and throughout Rhode Island. Frank also recalls her Pembroke gym teacher, Bessie Rudd, and Dean Margaret Shove Morriss, as well as coeducational and single-sex classes on both the Pembroke and Brown campuses.

Finch Collins, class of 2021

In this interview, Finch Collins, class of 2021, describes his early memories of his time at Brown University and explains how COVID-19 has impacted his undergraduate experience.

Janice Vanderwater, Faculty

In this interview, Janice Vanderwater discusses her college education at Barnard College and her path to becoming the first female faculty member of the English department at Brown University, then the director of dramatics. She worked at Brown from 1940 until 1966 and she details how the campus, and her position as a faculty member, was transformed by World War II, including the development of coed classes and trimesters, the increase of Army students, and the decrease of male faculty that allowed for her promotions in the department.

Jeree Palmer-Bechkham, class of 1983

In this interview, Jeree Palmer-Beckham begins by discussing her time in Providence, where she lived with her first husband, and explaining her completion of a Brown University degree in theatre arts through the Resumed Education Program (RUE).  Palmer explains how attending Brown impacted her life in theatre, particularly the production “Shades of Brown,” which led her back to the New York theatre scene. She discusses various productions she has worked on in New York.  

Lynn Nottage, class of 1986, and Ruby Aiyo Gerber, class of 2020

In this interview, Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright and Brown University class of 1986, and her daughter, Ruby Aiyo Gerber, Brown University class of 2020, discuss their experiences at Brown, living through the COVID-19 global pandemic, and processing the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Markita S. Morris, class of 1998

In this interview, Markita Morris, Brown University class of 1998, brings a perspective of a north Philadelphian who attended public school, was housing insecure, and who adored her time at Brown. This is also the Pembroke Center Oral History Project’s first interview conducted via FaceTime.

Morayo Akande, class of 2016

In this interview, Morayo Akande, Brown University class of 2016, begins by discussing her path to Brown, and the pressure she felt from her parents to attend an Ivy League institution. She recalls being especially impressed by the warmth of the campus during her visit in high school and narrates her correspondence with the Brown Track and Field team that recruited her. She then goes on to talk about her first memory at Brown, as well as her experience directing The Who’s Tommy.

Nicole Kathleen Harrison, class of 1992

In this interview, captured during Brown University’s 2018 All-Class Black Alumni Reunion, Nicole “Nikki Strong” Harrison, class of 1992, details her activism within theatre and dance programs on campus.

Ruth Ellen Bains, class of 1943

Ruth Ellen Bains begins Part 1 of her interview by highlighting her family background and her early education in the Lincoln, Rhode Island, public school system. She explains that she only had two colleges to choose from and decided to attend Pembroke College. She briefly describes living in a dormitory and her first impressions of the campus, before detailing the beneficial and copasetic coeducational structure necessitated by World War II.

Sarah Kay, class of 2010

Sarah Kay, Brown University class of 2010, begins her interview by describing her experiences as a child during 9/11 in New York City. Kay recalls in great detail the effects that 9/11 had both on her family, as well as her budding interest in poetry. Kay continues by describing her decision to apply to and attend Brown University for her undergraduate degree.

Sarah Elizabeth Minchin, class of 1913

In this interview, Sarah Elizabeth Minchin discusses the proliferation of theatre at Brown and in the greater Providence community. She tells us of the Talma Theatre, The Players Theatre, Henry Ames Barker, and elocution among other theatre-related endeavors.

Susan Beth Adler, class of 1958

In this interview, Susan Beth Adler, Pembroke College class of 1958, recalls her decades of professional and volunteer service to Rhode Island and Brown University.

Adler begins by describing her family’s long history within the Brown community, her mother being in the Pembroke class of 1925 and her father in the Brown class of 1918. She recalls living in Miller Hall and participating in Sock and Buskin – a coeducational theatre group. She briefly touches upon dating and relationships in college during the 1950s before turning to her life after Pembroke.

Sylvia Rosen, class of 1955

In Part 1 of this interview, Sylvia Rosen reflects on her freshman year at Pembroke College, the dormitories, dating, and meeting her husband.

In Part 2, she expands on the “thrilling” academic atmosphere at Pembroke, as well as her experience as one of the few Jewish students on campus.