Drama Instructor Taking a Break to Plan the Future of EvCC’s Theater Program


Simon Krane

Instructor Beth Peterson has run the school’s drama department for the past nine years. She will soon tour the country, researching other programs, with the goal of coming back and implementing a fiscally sound and well-structured new program to complement the school’s new black box theatre, expected in 2023.

Beth Peterson, EvCC’s drama instructor since 2000, will be taking a sabbatical next year during winter term.  During her time away she will be researching the next direction for the college’s drama program.

The Baker Hall building is going to be moved with the new Learning Resource Center (LRC) across Broadway, opening in 2023. The theater stage housed in Baker will need to move with it.

The plan for the new stage is for a black box theater. They use a mostly black space for the stage. This is a modern way of performing plays that allows for more imaginative performances.

It is also cheaper, which is always a concern for school programs.

Peterson requested time away to research the project after a preliminary meeting on the planning for the new building. “I was feeling responsible for making sure that what I contributed to the project was long-reaching.”

She said that one of the things she wanted to do while away was to visit community colleges and see how they run their programs.

Simon Krane
Students are pictured in last quarter’s play by Luigi Pirandello, “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” This quarter Peterson will be directing the play “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” by Oscar Wilde.

Besides just local programs, Peterson will be traveling the country hoping to see “not just the set-up for the black box… but also just how the organization is run, how they get their funding.”

Peterson is “optimistically cautious” about the move. She explained how Whitehorse and Greywolf were supposed to have a theater but it didn’t end up happening.  

Many theater programs have been shut down, Peterson pointed to “economics” as one of the reasons. “The nature of the world is changing,” said Peterson, “People are trying to cut cost wherever they can.”

This has been a growing concern for Peterson, especially over recent years, “It seems like its been in the last five or ten years, and it feels like it’s gotten worse,” said Peterson. “I’m very disheartened with our world right now, and the only thing I can do to save myself is my art.”

For me, being able to focus on this project is really good for my soul.”

— Beth Peterson

Peterson spoke to how this project impacts her. She said, “For me, being able to focus on this project is really good for my soul.”

After moving from Seattle to Everett, Peterson’s connection to the program has become more personal. “There’s been a big shift since I’ve started living here; it’s home now.”

Peterson had mostly run the theatre department by herself. In hiring more people she hopes to give her students a wider range of perspectives. Another concern is creating a more “sustainable” department for when she leaves.

Brittany Barber, who directed last fall quarter’s play, “Murder Town,” will help run the theater department during Petersons sabbatical.

This quarter Peterson will be directing the play “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” originally written by Oscar Wilde and first performed in 1892.