Which Way to the Stage?

Scott Ripley, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Theatre

New Faculty Highlight

Scott Ripley

Scott Ripley is an associate professor and chair for the Department of Theatre. However, it may come as a surprise to many that Professor Ripley didn’t begin his career in theatre. In fact, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) with a B.S. in English. It was at USNA where Ripley discovered the joys of theatre.

Scott Ripley fulfilled his commitment to the U.S. Navy and then decided to resign his commission in order to pursue theatre as his career. He began his graduate studies at the University of California, San Diego and upon earning his degree joined the American Repertory Theatre. Ripley enjoyed performing and truly felt that teaching wasn’t for him. However, when a friend offered him the opportunity to teach he soon realized it was his calling.

He decided to leave the American Repertory Theatre and pursue teaching. Scott Ripley was a lecturer at Arizona State University, a visiting professor at Davidson College, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, and an associate professor at the University of Connecticut prior to teaching at USD. Scott Ripley is a firm believer that the undergraduate experience should be a liberal arts experience and that professional training in acting should come at the graduate school level – this philosophy is what brought him to USD.

In addition to the liberal arts experience, Professor Ripley was also attracted to USD because of its mission. Ripley has always considered himself to be a Changemaker, firmly believing that theatre provides the opportunity to make the world a better place. This is something that significantly guides Scott Ripley in his pedagogy. In the classroom, Professor Ripley tackles teaching with a social justice approach, incorporating real world events into the classroom. One of the most important skills for an actor, according to Ripley, is empathy; something he feels there needs to be more of both on stage and off.

Furthermore, Ripley strongly believes that theatre techniques are not restricted to the stage. According to him, there are many performance techniques that professors and students alike can adopt. What theatre technique does Professor Ripley suggest for everyone? Improvisation. Scott Ripley finds that improvisation has helped him immensely in his teaching. He says that even though he plans his lectures, he often finds that lesson opportunities come up when he least expects them to. This is where he feels improvisation has helped him the most. He also believes that many trust building games used in theatre can be used in other disciplines that utilize discussion components in the classroom. During a classroom discussion, everyone should feel they are honored, respected, and trusted; Scott Ripley believes theatre can help with that.