2011 — A Theatrical Presence: The Davis Collection
April – May
In his 38 years of service to Western Oregon University, Richard Davis contributed to the success of many students as well as the university as a whole. In 2002, Western Oregon University was proud to name him the recipient of the Faculty Honors Award for Scholarship.
Davis came to WOU in 1964 after the completion of his master’s in English literature from the University of Washington. He later returned to the University of Washington to receive his doctorate in drama arts in 1976. In his nearly four decades at WOU, Davis brought tremendous recognition to the university through his work both in the classroom and on the stage. He taught many different classes, and he taught many of the theatre teachers in the Oregon public school system.
Davis directed and costumed more than 100 main stage productions in WOU’s Rice Auditorium, received an award of excellence from the American College Theatre Association, was chairman of the Creative Arts Division from 1989 to 1995, and was the head of the Theatre/Dance Department.
Davis began his life in the theatre as a young child in the basement of his parent’s home, creating plays and inviting the neighbors to watch his productions. Decades later, the stage and audience were larger and Davis’ productions at WOU were often regional winners and toured competitive venues. From his humble beginnings as a play writer, director and actor, Davis and his productions are now listed in the national Who’s Who in Entertainment and in Who’s Who in the West.
Of his many productions, those that stand out most for Davis are the more experimental ones. “I attempt to create something other than what you would normally expect when you come to the theater.” Productions by Davis were often unique due to his creativity and his drive to do things that are different and unusual. “You never know what the audience will take away from the production. As a director I can guide them and, in a sense, the audience creates their own production. Audiences are individuals and they will take what they want from a production.”
Costume design was perhaps the area of the theater in which Davis excelled more than any other designer in the Northwest. Davis found ways to express himself through creations, which contribute to the uniqueness and the success of his productions. Working in the theatre also gave him an opportunity to express himself and he felt that “directing is a way of influencing people. A director should be out to save the world because productions can affect the audience in moral ways and choices that contribute to life.”
Davis’ hard work and dedication to theater contributed to his many years of success. “Theater is an art that requires a tremendous amount from you. The willingness to try things that others would not has made my productions stand out more and become more successful.”
While Davis held goals for each of his individual students, there was one attribute he wanted all of them to develop. “Students need to be individuals and be on their own in the theater. They should not become dependent on other people. Students have a responsibility to themselves to be creative on their own and to see that as a challenge. If they have that attitude, they will be more successful in whatever they choose to do in life.”
2002 Commencement Program
LOCATION: 3rd floor galleries
Curators: Elizabeth Salisbury and Jerrie Lee Parpart