Theater alumni return to Kenyon to honor Marley and Turgeon

They are Kenyon's extraordinary team of drama coaches. Some of the College's most successful actors, directors, producers, and writers credit them with inspiring their careers, and Emmy-winning actress Allison Janney '82 says they are still her favorite directors. They are professors of drama Harlene Marley and Thomas Turgeon.

In honor of these legendary teachers, seven alumni returned to Gambier on a chilly October weekend for an informal reunion in their honor.

Marley, who came to the College in 1969, was Kenyon's first full-time female faculty member, and plans to end her teaching career at the end of the 2003-04 academic year. Turgeon, who has worked at the College since 1972, plans to retire in about five years.

The returning alumni included Douglass Anderson '75, the executive director of the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury, Vermont; actor Doug Ballard (Lotspeich) '76 of Los Angeles, California; Robert Eichler '75, an independent consultant working with health-care information systems and change management in Peterborough, New Hampshire; Charlotte McCormick '75, the artistic director of the Depot Theater, a professional company in Westport, New York; Meg Merckens '75, the associate artistic director and member of the Resident Acting Company at Old Creamery Theater Company in Amana, Iowa; Janice Paran '75, the dramaturg and director of play development for the McCarter Theater Center in Princeton, New Jersey; and Steve Stettler '74, producing director of the Weston Playhouse in Weston, Vermont.

"The greatest evidence of Tom and Harlene's success as teachers is that six of us are still in the business---an astonishing figure, really," says Anderson. "One that any professional training program would be proud of. They both taught by example."

Merckens feels that Marley played a significant role in her career. "After I graduated, I was working summer stock outside of Dayton, Ohio, when I received a short note from Harlene," she says. "She had met the business manager at a small, new theater in Iowa and decided it would be a great place for me to apply. Because Harlene cared about how I was doing after I finished school, because she took the time to write me that note, I have enjoyed a wonderful career at the Old Creamery Theater. How do you ever fully thank someone for that kind of caring? I hope this reunion gave us the chance to let Tom and Harlene know how much we, in turn, care about them."