By Madison Martinez
Under University Hall, on the worn floorboards of the Russell Ratsch Theatre, stands a fresh face taking on his new role as professor. Professor Shane Taylor, an adjunct professor, is a new theater instructor at FDU. Although he worked here last year, this is his first time teaching theatre classes while Professor James Rana is away on his theatrical pursuits.
“I enjoy it very much,” Taylor says about his classes. “The students are interested in learning and challenge me to be my best…[they] are game to jump into the deep end of the pool and take risks.”
Taylor is happy to be working at FDU, not only for its students, but also for the promises FDU grants its professors, he says.
He has been admiring FDU for years.
“I’ve been interested in joining the FDU family since I began my professional career,” Taylor said says. “They have a diverse student body and offer interesting courses. All of these characteristics contribute to making this a learning experience for me as well.”
As an adjunct professor, Taylor has a limited schedule teaching at FDU, only working on campus on Tuesdays. Despite the short timeframe, he makes the most of his time with his students and faculty members.
“Sometimes you feel as if you don’t have a voice,” Taylor said about being an adjunct instructor. “But I’ve been lucky to work with colleagues who recognize the value that I bring.”
Taylor has an enriched background in theatre, having trained in the Williamstown Theatre Festival and American Conservatory Theater. He has an MFA from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. However, what truly makes him an authority on the theater is his many performances as a professional actor.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to perform in close to 45 professional theatrical productions around the country since I was in my late teens,” he says.
This isn’t an easy feat, as Taylor says. “Working as a professional actor is mostly out of your control. Most of the actor’s work is the pursuit of work.” He is grateful for each new role he gets to take.
As for his teaching strategy, Taylor often takes his own experiences as a professional actor and applies them to his lessons.
“I’m lucky to have had many [wonderful experiences]. It’s great to be able to connect lessons in my classes to my professional experience. I think my students appreciate this.”
Students appreciate a professor who is honest in his pursuits and a professor that continues to learn, and that is one of Taylor’s strengths. An example of this is when he described one of his favorite roles.
Shephard Mallory from the play “Ben Butler,” a comedy based on the events of General Ben Butler during the Civil War. This role is one of Taylor’s favorites because he has played it not once, but twice.
“Revisiting the role enabled me to go deeper into the given circumstances of the play…I was able to step further into Mallory’s shoes [and] I learned a tremendous amount from him. Mallory seems to be the gift that keeps giving,” Taylor says.
And as Mallory gave to Taylor, Taylor gives to the FDU students.
Professor Taylor is a seasoned theatrical performer, who plans to use his experiences on stage to help influence his teaching style.
Photo by Emily Lambert