By Austin Norville ’15
Mrs. Dorothy Dunnion began working with theater on campus in 1991 as an assistant and in 1996 she took over Brophy Theater.
This semester’s “Peter Pan” marked her last curtain call as she retires from Brophy Theater.
“I love it, it’s fun. I love theater, I love directing,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “When I was hired by Brophy they asked me what co-curricular and so forth I could do. And I told them I had experience in theatre and was a director of high school theater, and they wanted me to start doing it right away.”
Mrs. Dunnion, however, had two children still in school.
“I told them I would be happy to assist but for four years I really was not willing to be a director because I knew how much time it took. I didn’t want to sacrifice my daughter’s last four years at home or my son’s final year at home,” Mrs. Dunnion said.
According to Mrs. Dunnion, theater is an important part of a high school community.
“It’s a creative outlet and it’s very social, and some of the people who are attracted to theater are very shy—they’re willing to be on stage but personally they’re very shy. So it’s a very social activity,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “I always say the goal of our fall show is to get everybody a date to the Christmas dance, and for the musical in the spring everybody goes to prom. (My favorite part is) watching the kids and seeing how much enjoyment and satisfaction and confidence they get from it.”
Mrs. Dunnion said she has directed six actors who are working as professionals today.
“Mr. (Tony) Oldani put something up on Facebook, knowing I would never know, asking kids who were in town to come to my last show on Saturday night and there were about 12 to 13 kids,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “I’ve got emails from kids who weren’t there; two of whom were in Boston, and both of them said almost the same thing that the confidence they feel in their careers now came from being on stage; which is crazy because I wouldn’t have known that they weren’t confident.”
Mrs. Dunnion said she just loves being with students.
“It’s a wonderful way to have a different kind of relationship with students that is kind of friendlier, its certainly more casual than it is in a classroom setting,” Mrs. Dunnion said. “I only teach juniors and sometimes I get reruns of seniors in my senior Humanities class, but in theater I get to be with them eight times. Van (Cummerford ’14) for instance has been in six shows since his freshman year so I know him pretty well and it’s great to have that kind of relationship.”
Cummerford said he got into theater freshman year when Mrs. Dunnion gave him a part in “The Upside Down Staircase.”
“That kind of kicked everything off, I just developed this awesome relationship with her and I was able to see how much she wanted us to succeed,” Cummerford said. “I wouldn’t really call her just a director, she’s more of a coach I’d say, she not only cares putting on a great show … Its almost this sense of caring about who we are as a person and I think that’s what sets her apart from so many different teachers; she genuinely really cares for us … she always wants to give students a chance to have this experience.”
Cummerford said Mrs. Dunnion is the reason he chose to continue acting in college.
“She is really interesting because not only does she care so much about theater, but she’s at every single one of the band concerts, she’s at every single of the various arts performances,” Cummerford said. “After every single one of the band concerts she writes a little blurb in the daily bulletin.”
When asked why she is retiring, Mrs. Dunnion responded, “I’m tired.”
“Theater is fun, it’s not ‘oh my teachers giving extra credit’ … It makes me crazy that theater is going to die because everybody will be at home watching things on two inch screens,” Mrs. Dunnion said of the legacy she wants to leave behind. “I think communally attending theatre rather than individually watching something on a screen is such a better experience.”