Professor takes stage


Marianne Miller is a professor at UK who recently performed in a local production by AthensWest Theater Company.

Chase Campbell

No matter what the play she is in is called, not much failing goes on in Marianne Miller’s class. Miller is a theatre professor here at UK, and is also putting time into her professional work as an actress, recently appearing in “Failure: A Love Story,” presented by AthensWest theatre company for the first half of February. 

The play, set in 1928, told the story of the three Fail sisters, who all died in reverse order – youngest to oldest. With this prefaced in the show, the audience began to learn about the lives of these individuals and their lives as a family.

“We’re seeing theatre, I think, tend toward the more ethereal, the more fantastical, the more imaginative, and this play was that,” Miller said.

Both inside and outside of the classroom, Miller has plenty of support from her students as well.

“Failure was really, really good,” Eileen Doan said, a senior in Miller’s audition techniques class. “It was just kind of wild to see, like, I’m going to see her in class on Monday.”

This is Doan’s first time with Miller as an instructor, and with a class as structured as audition techniques, she said that it was fun seeing Miller as lively and zany as she was in “Failure.”

Miller is not the only figure at UK to work on an AthensWest production. She is not even the only one this season, as last semester, senior Kenny Hamilton took on the leading role of Franco Wicks in the AthensWest production of “Superior Donuts,” now a network television series. Miller actually had made it part of her curriculum last semester to attend “Superior Donuts” and study the performance of the actors.

While Miller certainly didn’t require students like Doan to come study her, it brought a new level of intensity to her performance.

“There’s that side of you, as a teacher, that says ‘I better not screw this up,’ you know, I have these tenets I preach on, basically, and I don’t want to be saying one thing and demonstrating something else.” said Miller.

Doan was far less critical of Miller’s performance, truly just there to enjoy the show, making it very clear she does not have enough words to praise her professor.

“She’s a great teacher, really. She gives us a lot of freedom to choose our own material, and find out where we want to go with that.” 

Unlike the Fail sisters, Miller’s story here is one of success and joy, and students like Doan seem to be in agreement that UK is giving its very best to the stage here in Lexington.