USI Theatre faces staff changes as long-time department chair retires


Photo courtesy of USI Media

Cecily Cardew (Madalyn Cottrell) convinces her governess Miss Prism (Via Wagner) to spend time with Reverend Chasuble (Jason Pintar). “The Importance of Being Earnest: A trivial comedy for serious people” is the last USI Theatre show Elliot Wasserman directed before retiring.

Bryce West, Staff Writer

USI Theatre will undergo staff changes following the retirement of Elliot Wasserman, chair of the Performing Arts Department, this fall semester. Paul Weimer, associate professor of theatre, will take Wasserman’s place in Spring 2023.

USI Theatre performed “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” by Oscar Wilde Oct. 20-23. Wasserman has worked for USI Theatre since 1991, and this was Wasserman’s final show as director. 

“We’ve known for a while that Elliot was planning to retire, and it made the most sense of the faculty members that we have left that I become chair,” Weimer said.

Weimer said he has only worked with Wasserman for a few years, but he knows Wasserman has been a good role model. 

“He has a very even temper or a very pragmatic sense of what our students need, what the faculty want and need,” Weimer said. “He always tries to make decisions with everybody’s input.”

The Shield was unable to get a comment from Wasserman.

Amelia Schmitz, senior theatre performance major, said she will miss Wasserman. Schmitz has worked with him since her freshman year on several different shows.

“I am super sad Eliott’s leaving,” Schmitz said. “He’s very talented, especially at language. He’s done ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Those are the Shakespeares he’s done while I was here.”

Schmitz will take over as a student director for the next show, “These Shining Lives,” by Melanie Marnich Nov. 17-20.

“This is kind of my final thing,” Schmitz said. “I’ve wanted to do this since day one of starting college, so I’m just super thankful I get to.”

Weimer said he will continue with Wasserman’s duties when he takes over as the chair of the Performing Arts Department in Spring 2023. He said some of his duties will include writing reports, attending meetings and making sure the department is living up to the standards that have been set. 

Weimer lived in New York City before coming to work at USI. He was an assistant scenic designer on numerous Broadway shows such as “Shrek: The Musical,” “Matilda,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and more. He said he did around 21 broadway shows and nine or 10 national tours.

Weimer said if anyone has questions or wants to get involved with the USI Theatre, they can contact him or anyone else in the department.

“We’re really lucky to have a very tight-knit group of faculty and staff and students,” Weimer said. “We have much more interaction and a supportive environment here than I’ve seen elsewhere.”