Sometimes your artistic life isn't all fun and plunging forward. Sometimes it's about looking back. Today, for All Saint's Day, I want to try to remember those people who have touched my life personally and artistically but are no longer with us anymore. For the first ever Fronkensteen Remembrance I take a look at the legacy of Professor B. Chris Hardin MFA
Remembering Chris Hardin
Professor Hardin (I'm going to call him Chris from now on). Was the voice and movement professor at Austin Peay State University. My class was the only class that had him for all four years of our college career. There were several things that made Chris and I form a close student teacher relationship. Maybe it was the fact that we were both rednecks or that we both had the same geeky tendencies but Chris became a mentor to me. He endeared himself to so many of the students there. Here are just a few ways that he touched my life.
His Dedication to Artistic Integrity
Chris was never one to let you get by with shoddy work. Whatever you were doing onstage or offstage with him you were expected to bring your all and have respect for the art of others. In his classes he drove home the role of history and the benefit of studying the work of the people who've come before you. I can't read a theatre history textbook, or a biography of an artist, or see a show without wondering what Chris's reaction was going to be and what points he would have brought up in examining the work.
Chris directing one of his favorite shows, which was whichever one he was working on at the time.
His Dedication to Social Justice and Equality
I had this cookie made for Chris at a bake sale one semester when I was in his Gay and Lesbian Theatre Class. It was in that class that I was awakened to his zeal to gain equality for all people no matter what their race, creed, or sexual orientation. He never asked for supremacy, only for what he felt the people deserved. The last time that I saw him alive was when he directed the staged reading for the play 8 which was shown to raise money for human rights and to stop anti-gay bullying in schools. It was the happiest I had ever seen him. He died in a world where his Utopia of Equality was not yet realized. But left behind a legacy of students who are willing to take up the banner.
His Lack of Shame
Several times I would hijack Chris's office and just ramble on and on about my dreams and aspirations in the theatre. I would always end with, "But that would never happen." He would look at me intently and say, "They can happen but what are you going to do to make them happen?" Chris was one of the people most adamant that I go to graduate school and follow my dreams. That I don't let my past or my present circumstances keep me from pursuing a career in my chosen field and daring to excel at it. He never had shame about sharing his views or his artistic goals. And now...neither do I.
A Final Good Bye
Chris will be very missed but he is not missing from my life. His fingerprints are everywhere on my resume, my artistic views, and my memory. His body is gone but his memory will last forever.