Former Samford professor releases book

Former Samford University theater professor Barbara Sloan has recently released a book, “Theatre is My Life!”

The book is meant to be read daily, with each of the 366 entries featuring quotes or passages from plays, along with Sloan’s thoughts.

Sloan, a Vestavia Hills resident, said she loves day books and has read one every year for the past 12 years. She realized, however, that one did not exist for theater lovers, so she wrote it herself.

“It’s somewhat spiritual in nature,” Sloan said of the book.

Much like day books involving scripture or inspirational words, theater, too, can be “holy,” Sloan said. While it takes place in the present as the viewer sees the play unfold before them, plays can transport the viewer to different times and places, introducing them to people they might otherwise not meet, Sloan said.

Readers of the book will get some theater history, some personal memoir, some philosophy and more as they interact with the different play quotes and writings, Sloan said.

Many of the writings came from Sloan’s extensive theater calendar, which she uses to track the days plays debuted, the births and deaths of famous playwrights and more. Putting the book together involved a good bit of research, she said.

“It really made my memory a lot stronger,” Sloan said.

Sloan’s path to theater started while she was a student at the University of Montevallo. She earned a degree in English but was a part of multiple productions, beginning with “Of Thee I Sing.” Sloan also served as a College Night leader, helping produce a play entirely written, composed and performed by students, along with overseeing other parts of the university’s intracampus competition.

Sloan fell in love with theater and spent her career designing costumes, building sets and more.

“It probably really saved me,” Sloan said. “If I had stayed just being a writer, I would have been isolated.”

Theater brings people together, Sloan said, across many differences.

“I think it’s the camaraderie,” Sloan said. “If you’re working in theater, you’re an honored individual.”

From 1976 to 2001, Sloan taught at Samford, teaching others the joy of theater, hoping to inspire that love for them. One of her favorite classes to teach was outside the theater major, teaching theater appreciation, which included many non-majors.

Being a costume designer also provided her with a different perspective, one she was able to pass on to students.

“As a costume designer, you have to walk in the shoes of every single character,” Sloan said. “You honor the playwright and the playwright’s vision.”

Sloan said when she reads a play, she’s looking for clues as to what a character might wear, things that other readers and performers might not pick up on. Anything that might reveal a character’s personality should also come across in what they wear, she said.

Sloan has also worked at American Village, creating costumes and training interpreters as the village’s creative director. She has also served as the executive director of the Seasoned Performers, the state of Alabama’s only senior adult theater group.

She also still volunteers locally at different theaters and is currently working on finishing a children’s book on theater etiquette.

“Theatre is My Life!” can be purchased on Amazon.


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