I find ongoing inspiration from my dear college theatre teachers. Joan and Bob Welch (Andrews) were students of The Dramatic Workshop at The New School for Social Research post WWII, where they studied with American greats Martha Graham and Lee Strasberg as well as Erwin Piscator, John Gassner, and other prominent ex-pat artists who there found refuge from the European totalitarian governments they had fled. Joan and Bob’s classmates included Judith Malina, Harry Belafonte, Walter Matthau and Tony Curtis.
I met Joan at Central Valley High School when she visited our Thespian Society. By this time, Joan and Bob had created a drama department at the small Catholic women’s Fort Wright College in Spokane, WA. Having relocated to Spokane from NYC in 1949 to raise their family, Joan and Bob made a life in the theatre for themselves in the most unlikely of locations.
At Fort Wright, Bob and Joan imparted the values they had brought with them from their New School experience. They believed in the power of theatre to create social change and to introduce audiences to new ideas. They valued the theatre as an evolving art form to be enjoyed and appreciated by individuals from all walks of life.
During my four years of study with Joan and Bob, the co-ed theatre majors lived and worked as a company; playing small roles as freshmen, taking on the larger parts as we developed, in plays by Brecht, Shakespeare, Genet, Ionesco, Giraudoux, Albee and more. We learned and practiced all aspects of theatre making, from designing and building sets, lights and costumes to marketing our productions. We studied theatre history, read world drama and learned voice and movement for the stage.
Joan and Bob created The Inter Players Ensemble, Spokane’s first professional resident theatre company, which still exists today.
Linda Chapman Recent work includes co-writing the GLAAD Award winning Beebo Brinker Chronicles with Kate Moira Ryan, published by DPS and Gertrude and Alice: A Likeness to Loving with Lola Pashalinski. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, LPTW, National Theatre Conference and is Founding President – Youth Arts, NY.