Faculty Spotlight: Pam Pepper

Pam Pepper is a professor in the Lehigh University Department of Theatre where she teaches acting, directing, and theatre for social change. Her recent Lehigh directing credits include Bad Jews, Violet, Kind Ness and Minnesota, Urinetown and Dusty and the Big Bad World. She has worked in professional theatre as a director, literary manager, and administrator, and came to the Lehigh Valley as the associate director of the Pennsylvania Stage Company. She has been a Region II chair for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s playwriting awards committee, is an on-site evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and past department chairperson and College of Arts and Sciences associate dean. Pam holds an MFA in directing from Ohio State University.

Pam Pepper is currently directing the Department of Theatre’s production of Aaron Posner’s Stupid F*@#ing Bird, a play that is loosely adapted from Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Stupid F*@#ing Bird follows the intertwined love lives of seven people, all of whom discover “just how inadequate love, art, and growing up can be.” While messy love quadrangles are central to the play’s plot, the characters’ constant search for a new, exciting form of theatre—a form that can actually make a difference in the world--is equally as important. This heavily meta-theatrical play may seem a challenge to most, but the unique facets of Professor Pam Pepper’s professional career create the perfect storm of talents needed to direct a play like Stupid F*@#ing Bird.

First, there’s her admiration of Chekhov. “I’m a fan of Chekhov - especially as a vehicle for teaching acting and scene study,” she says. “Although Posner says Stupid F*@#ing Bird is only ‘sort of’ adapted from The Seagull. I continue to be impressed with his ability to capture the essence of the play, to maintain a semblance of Chekhovian sensibility, and to do so in a way that resonates with us in 2017.”

Then there’s Pam’s work with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Pam works as a director for ATHE’s New Play Development Workshop, collaborating with different creative teams to stage public readings of new short plays every summer.

And then there’s her experience teaching Theatre for Social Change, an undergraduate course that encourages students to explore the ways in which theatrical forms can reflect current social climates and be used to create impact. So, when it comes to new forms of theatre used to create change that are loosely based on Chekhov—aka Stupid F*@#ing Bird —Pam Pepper seems like a natural choice to lead the project. Add all of this to her love for theatre, and she’s the perfect candidate. “There’s simply nothing in this world like the exchange and flow of energy between a performer and an audience,” she says. “Together, performers and audience members experience an ephemeral moment in time that can never be repeated.  That moment has its own DNA; it is its own unique snowflake.  Sounds a bit hokey, I know, but after dedicating forty-seven, (or so,) years to live performance, I find it hard to equal.”