Excellence in Artistic Activity
Dr. James Winter
Excellence in Artistic Activity
Dr. James Winter
Assistant Professor, Fine and Performing Arts
William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a
stage.” While Southeastern may be a relatively small piece of
that world, playwright, director and theater instructor James
Winter is dedicated to putting the university on the drama map.
Winter’s dedication to the art of theatre and for the artistic growth of his students has earned him the 2011 Southeastern President’s Award for Artistic Excellence.
The nomination came as a surprise to Winter, an assistant
professor of acting and directing who has only been on faculty at
the university for six years.
“This is definitely an honor; I’ve never really gone up for anything like this,” says Winter. “It’s great to have your work validated by people you trust. I’m really excited.”
Winter has created a name for himself in the short time he has
served on the theater faculty. He has directed 10 productions,
edited and authored several books and written several plays
this in addition to teaching classes at both Southeastern and
University of New Orleans and serving as a committee member of the
Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).
“The arrival of Mr. Winter on our campus in 2005 has had
an immediate, transformative effect on the theatre area of our
department, in large part due to Jim’s creativity and
accomplishments,” said David Evenson, head of the Department
of Fine and Performing Arts. “I firmly believe his nomination
is one of the most richly deserved in the 30 years the
President’s Award has been bestowed.”
Winter serves as the faculty advisor for Alpha Psi Omega, the
honorary theatre organization on campus. He is also one of the
creators and coordinators for the study abroad program held each
summer in Great Britain, where students study and experience
theatre first-hand, meet famous actors and visit historical
“Jim’s work continues to attract critical attention,
but the success of his efforts is but a reflection of his
abilities,” says Samuel Hyde, Leon Ford Chair and director of
the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies. “He is a rare
individual who, when offered a task, produces something far better
than expected, completely through his own tireless effort and
Hyde saw those qualities first hand when he worked with Winter in the development of the original play Only in Louisiana: The Not-Quite-True Story of the West Florida Revolt, one of the key events in last year’s bicentennial celebration of the West Florida Republic Revolt. Winter convinced Hyde and other members of the bicentennial commission that a light, comedic approach would tell the history of the revolt far better than a ponderous production.
Winter firmly believes in working closely with his students through directing, mentoring and simple interaction. In 2009 while working with student Zach Boudreaux of Walker, he encouraged the young playwright in his crafting of the original play Parking Lot Babies. Winter spent considerable time mentoring Boudreaux as he worked on the award-winning play that earned high recognition at the regional festival of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Amarillo in 2010. In the fall Winter intends to mentor a recent Southeastern graduate who will be directing a production at the university. He believes this collaboration and interaction with students is one advantage to being an arts professor.
“I love working closely with individual students or small
groups,” says Winter. “It’s a chance for me to
teach the students more than I can in a regular classroom setting.
I enjoy it, and I think they do too. We become friends during the
Winter is focusing on getting a theatre major back at
Southeastern, which was lost in the 1980s. He feels it would be a
great recruiting tool for the university and a chance to develop
into the best theatre program in the state. But even without a
degree program, the department has managed to land several major
awards through the Kennedy Festival, including a national award for
Parking Lot Babies.
“Everything I’ve done since I came here is to try
and get that degree program back,” says Winter. “I
don’t know if it will ever happen, but we have already proven
that we can turn out better work than most of the other schools in
Winter has earned the respect of both students and faculty, who
believe his nomination for the President’s Award is well
deserved for his devotion to the university, as well as his
contribution to theatre.
“James Winter is an exceptional model of artistic excellence devoted not only to his craft and fellow artists, but to the responsibility of his art,” says Arthur Adair, a faculty member at Austin Community College and fellow KCACTF committee member. “His value to theatre is immeasurable. Southeastern is very fortunate to have him.”