Vestavia Hills resident, professor releases book

Former Samford University theater professor Barbara Sloan recently published a book, “Theatre Is My Life!”

The book is meant to be read daily, with each of the 366 entries featuring quotes or passages from the plays along with Sloan’s thoughts.

Sloan, a Vestavia Hills resident, said she loves books a day and has read one every year for the past 12 years. However, she realized that it was not available for theater lovers, so she wrote it herself.

“It’s somewhat spiritual in nature,” Sloan said of the book.

Like books of the day that include scriptures or inspirational words, theater can be “sacred,” Sloan said. While it takes place in the present when the audience sees the play unfold before them, plays can transport the audience to different times and places, introducing them to people they may not have met, Sloan said.

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Readers of the book will get some theater history, some personal notes, some philosophy and more as they interact with references and writings from various plays, Sloan said.

Most of the entries came from Sloan’s extensive theater calendar, which he used to keep track of the days that plays opened, the births and deaths of famous playwrights, and more. Putting the book together took some good research, she said.

“It really made my memory stronger,” Sloan said.

Sloan’s path to theater began when she was a student at the University of Montevallo. She majored in English but has been a part of many productions, starting with “Of The I Sing”. Sloan has also served as the College Night Director, helping to create a play that is entirely written, produced and performed by students, while overseeing other aspects of the university’s intracampus competition.

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Sloan fell in love with the theater and spent his career designing costumes, building sets and more.

“It probably really saved me,” Sloan said. “If I had just stayed as a writer, I would have been fired.”

Theater brings people together, Sloan said, in many different ways.

“I think it’s a friendship,” Sloan said. “If you work in the theater, you are a proud person.”

From 1976 to 2001, Sloan taught at Samford, teaching others the joys of theater, hoping to inspire that love in them. One of her favorite classes to teach was outside of the theater major, teaching theater appreciation, which included many non-majors.

Being a costume designer also provided her with a different perspective, one she was able to pass on to students.

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“As a costume designer, you have to walk in each character’s shoes,” Sloan said. “You respect the playwright and the playwright’s perspective.”

Sloan said that when she reads a play, she looks for clues about what a character is wearing, things that other readers and artists don’t pick up on. Everything that can express the character’s personality should come through in what they wear, she said.

Sloan also worked on American Village, as Village’s creative director, doing costumes and training interpreters. She also served as executive director of Seasonal Performers, Alabama’s only major adult theater group.

She still volunteers at various theaters locally and is currently working on completing a children’s book on theater etiquette.

“Theatre is my life!” Can be purchased on Amazon.


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