Austen Bell’s Busy Summer is Leading to an Even Busier Career

Posted by Monica Hoel

Austen is spending the summer of 2022 in Emory, but there are bigger goals on the horizon.

Austen graduated from Emory & Henry in the fall of 2019 with a major in Theatre Directing, and this summer the work is all about using that degree to help Emory & Henry with a raft of projects at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts…like helping the facility’s tech director install new sound equipment, assisting the E&H theatre department with a kids’ summer camp, and designing the lighting for Patrice Foster’s upcoming show.

Austen is also putting together a kids’ version of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third that will be performed at Booklover’s Warehouse in Johnson City….just for fun. “It will be performed in the bookstore with a different scene acted out in various aisles of the store!”

But all this will end soon because grad school is calling, and Austen will be pursuing a master’s degree at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton starting in August. “I have an associate’s degree in English, a bachelor’s degree in theatre directing, and now I’m getting a master’s degree in Shakespeare.”

Why is Austen so excited about the famous old bard? “Because you’re allowed to be ‘too much’ in Shakespeare! You can’t play it ‘small’ when you’re playing a role where you have to learn that you just ate the body of your dead son in a pie!” (See Titus Andronicus.) Austen has occasionally been accused of being “a little too much,” but that energy works perfectly for Shakespeare.

While career goals keep changing, Austen beams when talking about teaching kids and getting them excited about all that comes with being in the world of dramatic arts. Austen says younger kids are at a stage where they’re willing to take on tough roles without hesitation. “They aren’t scared of anything – they’re not used to being good at things. But by the time a kid is 18 they have a fear of messing up. I want to turn all these innocent children into theatre people!”

  • Austen Bell
    Emory & Henry Class of 2020

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