by LaTischa Franzmeier, Staff Writer
“I came out in my costume and she was like, ‘Oh, you’d be such an awesome drag queen,’” sophomore Michael Carter recalled an interaction with Candace Taylor, a visiting full-time professor in the Theatre Department.
While temporary professors are common at Warren Wilson, Taylor is anything but common, according to her students. Sophomore Hale Williams, time-and-again stage manager for college theatre productions, lovingly refers to her as “Candy.”
After sharing a room with the two of them it is plain to see that she is a valued and vibrant presence in the community.
Taylor was born in Washington, D.C., but her father was in the Army and the family frequently moved. Taylor’s first acting experience was a role in a German production of The King and I.
“I always knew I wanted to be an actor,” Taylor said.
She began directing in college, taught at Northwestern University’s High School Institute for seven years and also held a position at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. When she was offered a position at Warren Wilson, she was glad to travel south.
Taylor was recently invited to return to Warren Wilson next year, continuing as a professor of theatre. She was thrilled the prospect.
In the fall semester, Taylor directed Carol Churchill’s “Cloud 9,” a topsy-turvy come- dic satire that questions gender roles and pokes fun at social norms. She is now in the process of deciding who to cast for Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” an entirely different sort of production.
“You have to be open enough and free enough to allow it to happen,” said Taylor.
She described “The Cherry Orchard” as having two layers. On the surface, the play is a comedic portrayal of a family in denial of their bankruptcy on the eve of the Rus- sian Revolution. Underneath, though, it is possible to see a layer far more emotional. Taylor referred to Chekhov as a humanist in the sense that he did not impose his words or personality onto his characters, demanding that an audience work to understand their personalities. From the haphazardly stacked volumes of Chekhov on Taylor’s shelf to the dedication with which she approaches the project, it is clear the play will display Taylor’s passion.
However, the college production of “The Cherry Orchard” is not exclusively Taylor’s vision.
“She’s a really good director who knows how to take her time and let the actor develop their own style,” Carter said. “Cloud 9” was Carter’s acting debut at Warren Wilson and he starred in a leading role.
“She’s one of the most fun directors I’ve ever worked with,” said Williams, who will be stage manager for “The Cherry Orchard.” “It’s nice to work with a director who actu- ally relies on the stage manager.”
It seems as though the upcoming produc- tion of “The Cherry Orchard” will be well- rounded. According to Taylor, the music will be composed by a man on call-backs for The Blue Man Group, the play can be examined from a literary and rhetorical standpoint and the cast will “get to know” their characters in order to present a more in-depth look into Chekhov’s world.
“It’s a play I think a lot of people will find interesting,” said Taylor. “There are boring productions, but I promise this one won’t be.”