Reprinted with permission from the July – August 2010 issue of The Fourth R.
Theater and Religion Make this Man
Doyne Mraz has played numerous roles in the theater and in the classroom, sharing his passion for the dramatic arts with several generations of students. In fact, Doyne is still teaching at Southern Oregon State University and Rogue Community College. “I tried retirement in 1994, but the Dragon Lady, with whom I share my life, determined it was better for both of us if I returned to the classroom.”
Doyne and his wife, Corinne, had retired to Ashland and then Medford, Oregon, after a Dean’s career at Foothill Community College in Los Altos Hills, California, where he was Dean of Performing Arts.
He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater from the University of the Pacific, then spent three years in the Army. He then taught high school for eight years before pursuing a Ph.D. in a joint program with Stanford University and the University of Southern California’s famed film school.
One of Doyne’s assignments was at Gonzaga University where, in addition to his regular teaching, he taught priests, following the Second Vatican Council, to conduct masses facing the congregation. “I really put them through their paces,” he recalled.
He then moved to Foothill Community College where he spent more than twenty years as a teacher, administrator and later as a theater impresario. Doyne established the Los Altos Conservatory Theater that was eventually to produce 14 shows a year.
Doyne’s favorite playwright is Tennessee Williams, on whom he wrote his dissertation. He became a collector of signed, first editions of all of Williams’ plays. When a group in Los Angeles decided to do a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire with Faye Dunaway and Jon Voigt, the producer contacted Doyne because he had the original script. Doyne was given the singular honor of being designated the dramaturge, who serves as an advisor to the producer on all technical and artistic aspects of the play, particularly in rehearsals. Later in his career, Doyne directed the initial production of Williams’ The Two Character Play, which was first produced in San Francisco before it moved to Broadway.
After retirement, Doyne shifted his focus to religion. He took a course from John Shelby Spong at the Theological Seminary at Berkeley, California, where he learned of Westar and the Jesus Seminar. He has faithfully attended semi-annual meetings ever since, as well as several Jesus Seminars on the Road.
At the kickoff of the Campaign for Westar in fall 2008, he approached Andy Scrimgeour, chair of the campaign, to learn if Westar might be interested in his signed, first edition Tennessee Williams plays. Andy arranged for the transfer and the sale, and the proceeds went to the campaign. “It is a testament to Doyne’s love for Westar that he would give these magnificent scripts that were certainly a centerpiece of his working life,” Andy said.
Since then, Doyne has continued his generosity to Westar, recently giving a gift to support the development of a new website. For the unassuming professor, however, the role of philanthropist is just one more in a life filled with many. “It just seemed the appropriate thing to do.”