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A Class Act
May 03, 2012
Professor of Theatre Alan Wade brings the Bard to life for students.
By Magdalena Stuehrmann, Class of 2015
Alan Wade, a professor of theatre in George Washington University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, is a man of many talents. He teaches, acts, directs, leads study abroad trips and has served as the chair of his department.
Dr. Wade has been at GW since 1977 and teaches a variety of classes including introduction to acting, scene studies of classical and contemporary texts, directing, vocal performance and audiobook narration.
While he has acted professionally on the stage and in television and film and has directed performances in the D.C. area, his real passion is teaching. He was inspired by one of his college professors at Northwestern University.
“What he taught and how he taught it, and who he was as a person were all wonderful. He made teaching a very attractive field to me,” said Dr. Wade. “I remember going into his office and telling him, ‘I really like what you do.’”
Dr. Wade fosters the same sense of inspiration in his students. Meghan Bernstein, a freshman majoring in theater in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, has taken classes from Dr. Wade, acted in productions he has directed at the university and participated in the Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare program, which he heads.
“It’s a disappointment when his lectures or rehearsals wrap up for the day. He is by far my favorite professor I have had at GW,” she said. “Professor Wade exudes such enthusiasm and passion for the subject he is teaching that the students in his class cannot help but be interested and engaged.”
The Dean’s Scholars in Shakespeare program, which was launched by Dr. Wade in 2006, is open to Columbian College students who are interested in Shakespeare and performance.
Students in the program take two courses in the fall semester, a University Writing course called Adapting Shakespeare and a performance class taught by Dr. Wade called Shakespearean Washington. In the spring semester, students take a practicum course during which they create a project celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday. Students also have the option of doing a short-term study abroad session to London for spring break.
After six years of leading the program, Dr. Wade is handing over the reins to Alex Huang, associate professor of English and Shakespeare scholar, who will expand it to 16 credit hours.
Dr. Wade expects his students to read Shakespeare outside of class and to perform while inside the classroom. He works with students on delivering lines, blocking and making scenes come to life. While he brings a breadth of experience to the director’s chair, he respects students’ creativity and unique interpretation of the meaning of Shakespeare’s writing.
Not all of the students in the Dean’s Scholars program are theater or English majors, and Dr. Wade said he enjoys the diversity.
“I remember a political science major who really blossomed during the program,” he said. “When we went to London, she performed a scene at the London Dramatic Academy, even though she wasn’t training to be an actress. I thought it was amazing, because Shakespeare lives in performance and she was assuming a persona and words not her own and representing it wonderfully.”
Ms. Bernstein, who has Dr. Wade as an adviser, said he brings out the best in his students.
“His humor, ever-present smile and gift of superb teaching make Dr. Wade the very image of the ideal professor. Every student who knows Dr. Wade respects him so much that no one wants to let him down,” she said. “He has a unique gift of inspiring his students to work to their full potential.”