Issue 6.1 - James Loehlin


James Loehlin

I was completely surprised when I found out about this special issue of The Hare, as well as very honored and humbled. To read such detailed and positive accounts of one’s teaching is a once-in-a-lifetime-dream experience for any professor, and I am deeply grateful that I get to hear such thoughtful reflections while I am still around to bask in them!

Of course, these reflections overstate the case, and often give me credit I don’t really deserve. The people who are entitled to the credit for all of the wonderful learning that takes place at Winedale are the students themselves, students like Carra Martinez and the others who contributed their memories to these various pieces.  For more than twenty years under my direction, and another thirty under that of Doc Ayres, students have been making a remarkable commitment to explore Shakespeare at Winedale in a detailed, determined, and demanding way, a commitment “costing not less than everything” (as Doc likes to quote from...

James Loehlin’s Inaugural Summer Leading Winedale

Carra Martinez

Like a good theater-maker, I am wrestling with all the actions that might be played in constructing this essay, a reflection on participating in James Loehlin’s inaugural Winedale class in the summer of 2001. And as they are wont to do, my thoughts and my heartstrings are moving quickly and rhizomatically, spreading and shooting: first come memories of performing three plays in a barn—Comedy of Errors, Henry V, and All’s Well—and those memories connect to my own years teaching Shakespeare and I laugh thinking of my students and that laugh leads me to all of the hours spent maniacally giggling with Winedale classmates and so I ponder the funny (perhaps it’s more like quirky) people we’ve become twenty years later and that pondering of the more adult paths we’ve taken since 2001 links to my own days working at the Guthrie Theater, links to a memory of a stupendous Romeo and Juliet sword fight, but then thoughts of work land me back in the present. My eyes return to the scene before me, settling on the trees in the...

My Star Student

Paul Woodruff

As I walked into my classroom on the first day, I heard a student say loudly to a circle of friends, “They told us the professors might look like students, but this is ridiculous.” In 1981 I did look ridiculously young for a professor, but this was not the last disruptive remark from that student. The course was a first-year seminar in Plan II on the philosophy of tragedy—which, to these students must have meant traffic accidents. Luckily there was also a student in the room who was serious about theater. He was tall, with dark hair and a compelling voice. He soon became the center of gravity of the main part of the seminar, while the traffic accident segment revolved in its own orbit till mid-terms. But after that, this segment was drawn down into the class, thanks largely to the gravity pull of the star student, whose name was James Loehlin. I came to know James further through Plan II philosophy the next year, when I encouraged him to prepare to apply for Marshall and Rhodes scholarship applications, and I watched him start a group that produced plays. We became...

From Texas Hill Country to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley: The Living Legacy of James Loehlin’s Approach to Studying Shakespeare Through Performance

Matt Davies

“How would you like to play King Lear at Winedale this summer?” James Loehlin asked me out of the blue. “I’m half his age, literally,” I spluttered. “Well, you’d be twice the students’ ages, which is perfect. Consider it practice,” James concluded, bringing negotiations to a close with that characteristic blend of unimpeachable logic and wry humor. This brief conversation happened in James’s office on the University of Texas at Austin (UT) campus in the late spring of 2006, when I was a Teaching Assistant in his Drama of Modernism class. Having been a professional actor in the UK for 15 years, three of them spent touring five-person Shakespeare productions around American campuses, including UT’s, with the Actors From The London Stage company, Austin had hooked me in that way it does, and I had enrolled in the English PhD program in 2004. But now, with a Master’s degree in view, I had resolved to return home. Taking on the formidable challenge of the Shakespeare at Winedale summer program seemed an...

James Loehlin Sculpts in Time

William Casey Caldwell

This special issue in honor of James Loehlin celebrates the over twenty years he has spent as the director of Shakespeare at Winedale, an intensive learning through performance program run through the English department at the University of Texas at Austin. The lives of each of the writers contributing to this special issue have been touched by James’s exceptional brand of teaching and yet each represents just a small distillation of the multitudes of other students’ lives he has helped to shape so fundamentally. Carra Martinez was one of James’s first students at Winedale and has gone on to become a theater practitioner; Paul Woodruff taught James when he was an undergraduate at UT and James taught his daughter in turn at Winedale; and Matt Davies took a new direction with his professional acting career to work with James at Winedale, play King Lear, and complete a Ph.D. at UT (where James, also an English professor at UT, served on his committee), before going on to run an MFA program at Mary Baldwin University that shares many of Winedale’s founding principles. As the editor for this...