Carolyn “C.J.” Keith has an extremely busy schedule. She is the undergraduate adviser for the San Diego State School of Theatre, Television and Film, a teacher, a director of productions on campus and an assistant director of the 2013 Shakespeare Festival’s interpretation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which is currently playing at The Old Globe.
Upon meeting her in person, it’s hard to get the impression she is frantically busy. Keith comes across as a calm individual who has everything in control.
She admits that sacrifices have to be made in order to get so much accomplished.
“It might be harder if I had children. While I don’t have any kids, my students become my children,” Keith said.
Keith gets equal satisfaction from teaching, directing and advising, explaining that she “gets something different out of all of them. I really feel like I am helping students when I advise them. I want to make sure they have the best possible university experience while they’re here.”
Her biggest accomplishments, with regard to academics, are creating stronger relationships between students and faculty of the TFM and theater arts department. She says that both departments are working hard on ensuring each emphasis is “current, reflects industry practices and has a solid academic core.”
Keith’s next big project is a new production of the haunting drama, “The Laramie Project.” The true story is about the aftermath of the murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was killed because he was gay.
“Sadly, the play is still relevant to our immediate times and world that we are living in,” Keith said. “You follow the news and there are still these horrible hate crimes. ‘The Laramie Project’ addresses that and shows hope. That’s what it is really about to me. It is hope in the face of these acts of violence.”
When asked about other shows she would like to work on, Keith’s answer displayed her enormous passion for theater.
“’Anna in the Tropics’ is on the top of that list. I love that play. It won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2003. It’s a gorgeous script full of beautiful writing and an amazing story,” Keith said.
She said other plays she would like to work on are Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “The Diviners” and “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”
Her personal advice to SDSU students is expansive and applicable to individuals in all majors.
“Take advantage of everything,” Keith said. “Soak it up. Be a sponge. Just allow everything to come at you. Study hard. Just get involved as much as possible with any aspect of the university. Go abroad. This is the best time of your life to do it. I know it’s a lot to do in four years, but this is the time. We’re here to support you.”
Keith seems ready for another semester of positively enriching college students lives and ready to tackle one of the most anticipated plays of the 2013-14 season on campus. To some this might seem overwhelming, but Keith has proven to be more than capable of achieving many wonderful things, all at the same time.