Lower Columbia College | Biography

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Don Correll
Drama Instructor
Lower Columbia College
Longview, Washington

I have a lifetime love of theatre and I have actively participated in it since childhood, even doing kid shows with the neighbors. In high school I was in the drama club, the annual Christmas pageant (yes they used to do them in school) and, of course, the senior play where I was a titled Englishman who smoked a pipe. Smoked meaning fill the bowl with powder and gently blow out "smoke".

After high school I spent four years in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Alstede, a floating grocery store. It was our job to replenish the fleet at sea. I was a machinist’s mate and worked with main propulsion systems and making fresh water out of salt water.

In 1962 I put away my navy blues and returned to Pennsylvania (where the world began). I worked in display, as a men’s window designer at Hess’s a very upscale department store. I finally had time to do some theatre, which was next to impossible floating about on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I was an actor, stage manager, and set designer in local community theatres. I worked at and served on the board of directors of Civic Little Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The G.I. Bill was renewed and that gave me the opportunity to go to college. So I was off to Kutztown State in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. And yes, I was in the drama department. In 1968 I auditioned for the brand new University of Washington Professional Actor Training Program in Seattle. Three years later I had a fine arts degree in acting. I stayed at UW for two more years and earned a Master’s degree in Directing.

During the summers of my first to years in Seattle I returned to Allentown as stage manager for Allentown Summer Theatre, a large tent theatre presenting a musical a week. It was there in 1969 that I earned my Actors Equity card. I was now a professional in the theatre.

While in college I worked at A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle as a stage manager when the theatre was still located on Queen Anne Hill. Next gig was as Managing director of The Skid Road Theatre in Pioneer Square. The theatre was in the basement and my office was under the sidewalk. In addition to managing money and contracts I also acted, directed and did set and light design. I also moonlighted as a stage manager for Seattle Repertory Theatre.

In 1976 someone suggested I apply for the drama position at LCC. I applied because it was, "Man, a really radical campus." I got the position but alas, it was not a radical school. Drat! Well, I must have liked it because I have been here since August 1976.

I produce one major production every quarter with plays ranging from Greek classics, to commedia dell arte masked comedy, to Shakespeare, Restoration, and modern plays. Roughly as of 2009 that totals 100 productions. I do most of the directing, and in recent years have done the lighting after the death of longtime light designer Terry Reiniger. Additionally the college has hosted the High School One Act Play festival for over 20 years.

I teach theatre classes in acting, introduction to theatre, stagecrafts, masks and movement. To me, Integrative Studies is the best way to teach, 3 instructors with 60 students together for a quarter. The faculty members select the theme and some courses I have been teaching with my fellow faculty members are Vietnam, Body Beautiful, War, Race, Class, Sex and Gender, and Image and Reality.

In the community I have been a member of and on the board of directors of Cascade Players. I have served as president of Allied Arts of the Lower Columbia. I am a member and serve on the board for the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Honors reflecting the theatre:

  • Lower Columbia College Faculty of the Year
  • Lower Columbia College Associated Students Faculty of the Year
  • Oregon and Washington Community Colleges Award of Recognition
  • Washington Community College Humanities Exemplary Status Award
  • Who’s Who Among American Teachers
  • NISOD International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence Award