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Professor Ketchum Spreads Love of Theatre

posted Dec 28, 2010, 9:32 PM by The Voice   [ updated Dec 28, 2010, 9:44 PM ]
By Keatin Reagan

For one professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery, theatre classes aren’t just required courses. They are an opportunity to expose students to something that is almost becoming a lost art.

Ellen Ketchum, Professor of Theatre at Lone Star College-Montgomery
Photo by Alexandro Jimenez
“I love the theatre. I love exposing people to it,” said Ellen Ketchum, Professor of Theatre, “and when you see students, current or former, really ‘get it’ and succeed in theatre, that’s just the best feeling in the world.”

Ketchum brings more than 27 years of teaching experience to her work at LSC-Montgomery; she has spent most of her adult life in the theatre, and has the accolades to prove it. The Orange County, California native was the executive director of the Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory Theatre and was the director of the prestigious University of Southern California School of Theatre from 1987 to 1993.

It was through her work as director at South Coast Repertory Theatre that she came to be at LSC-Montgomery. South Coast Rep did a great deal of work with the Alley Theatre in Houston, where Ketchum “fell in love with the art scene in Houston. When the opportunity came to leave my position in California and Lone Star offered me a job here, I jumped at it.” She is currently in her sixth year of teaching at LSC-Montgomery.

But Ketchum is not content to only spread her love of her chosen art in the classroom. She has directed many productions here at LSC-Montgomery, including “Master Class", for which she won a Director’s Award from the American College Theatre Festival. She also helps out and works with many young actors and newly formed local theatres. “The more these people and these theatres succeed, the more people will be able to go to the theatre,” Ketchum said of her work with local artists.

The love of teaching and the arts has rubbed off on her children as well. Her daughter, a former ballerina with nearly 30 years of experience, is the director of dance at the Swiss Conservatory of Dance in Geneva, Switzerland. Her son Paul is a Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Oklahoma.

When she’s not busy with her numerous other projects, Ketchum can be found playing with her five dogs or talking to her grandchildren in Switzerland via Skype.

For her part, Ketchum loves to help her students succeed more than anything else. “The thing that has been rewarding here,” she said, “is the number of people we’ve managed to get into a field that’s very difficult to get into. People just don’t know how remarkable Houston’s art scene is, and I encourage them to get their feet wet.”