Shaping by example
Professor leads in performance rigor
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jun 21, 2019) — Department of Theatre and Performance Studies’ assistant professor Amanda Wansa Morgan seems to have a magic touch with everything she does. This past November, she received a Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Music Direction – metro Atlanta’s professional theatre awards – for her work with the Actor’s Express production of The Color Purple.
Morgan has directed both music and theatre for countless other professional plays, including musical direction for Jesus Christ Superstar and theatre direction for Marisol. She also has performed in Beauty and the Beast and Ragtime, to name just a few of her acting credits.
As coordinator of musical theatre in KSU’s College of the Arts, Morgan is also busy teaching courses in acting, voice, musical theatre performance, and musical theatre history and literature. The former high school athlete enjoys performing and directing, but she may love teaching even more. On deciding to become a professor, she said, “I slowly started to fall more in love with teaching and I felt good about what I was doing. I felt more pride about my students and their successes than I did about my own success as a performer.”
While shaping other artists is demanding, Morgan still finds a way to enjoy the process, and her students appreciate this about her. Her advice to students reflects years of professional experience and touches on the importance of patience, calmness, delegation, and trust.
She is also adamant that students learn how to take care of themselves when working on a large show, especially when it’s on top of their academic work and, often, an outside job as well. When students were working on Ragtime, she stressed to them the importance of taking care of themselves.
“I spent a lot of time lecturing early on how to manage stress, how to eat well, how to properly warm up vocally and physically, and how to take care of yourself when you’re doing a big project and you’re trying to juggle your real life because that is the real world,” she said.
Morgan speaks from personal experience: she is involved in eight professional shows a year on top of teaching. With this schedule, she provides a unique example for her students, especially through sharing with them the rigors of the professional world.
Morgan hopes that her students will benefit from TPS in more ways than improved life skills and meeting the professional world’s expectations. She hopes they will become scholar artists: students who are able to delve deeply into a piece of work and understand its context, history, and relevance to art and society.
“I do believe it is our responsibility to dig as deeply as we possibly can—as we humanly can—into the content to make sure that we are being truthful, that we are being authentic, that we are addressing conflicts before they arise or as soon as they do, and to dig specifically into content with historical context,” she said.
She added, “One of the great things about my job and my position is that I get to work with our wonderful students, to help grow and cultivate young artists and help them along on their journey here.”
– Tobhiyah Emiohe and Kathie Beckett
Photo and video courtesy of the College of the Arts
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.