GWU Theatre Program Founder C. Robert Jones Reflects on Career in Book

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Work Replays Decades of Stage Experiences

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – C. Robert Jones has mentored Miss America finalists, singers, actors and dancers in his education career of more than 50 years. And he says if he could mandate it, he would require all teachers, preachers and lawyers to take courses in his specialty subject – theatre.

Jones, a former Gardner-Webb University faculty member who started the theatre arts degree program in 1966, chronicles his lifetime experiences surrounding the stage in his book, titled “I Like It Here! Adventures in the Wild and Wonderful World of Theatre.” The work includes anecdotes from an opening night of the show “Breath of Life” with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith in London, to experiencing Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in “Macbeth” at Stratford-upon-Avon, to world-premiere productions he’s directed.

“It’s a collection of memories. It’s a book about theater adventures,” Jones said. “It’s some of the stories from my life in theatre over the years, people I’ve met, places I’ve been, places I’ve seen, pieces I’ve worked on.”

Former GWU President Dr. Eugene Poston hired Jones in 1966 to begin the theatre arts program during the school’s transition to senior college status. “During that move, it was important to have that program in place. My job was to build it,” Jones shared. “In 1971, when Gardner-Webb graduated its first four-year class, there were five young women with degrees in theatre arts. I’m still in touch with those five women.”

Jones, who has lived in Mars Hill, N.C., for the past 43 years, is still in touch with his love of writing for the stage and other formats. He said he always has a current project, either a play or narrative fiction work, in progress. His decades of investment in theatre have propelled him to advocate for its usefulness for students of all disciplines. Among other careers, his former students now pursue careers as health care public relations directors, magazine editors and college alumni relations professionals.

“A theatre degree can prepare you to get up in front of the public and be calm to talk with some sense of authority, to meet people well, to be able to handle unusual and unexpected circumstances, to be polished and feel comfortable and to look sophisticated,” he said. “Theatre is preparation for more successful ways to approach life.”

“I Like It Here! Adventures in the Wild and Wonderful World of Theatre” is available at amazon.com and via publisher Pisgah Press at pisgahpress.com.

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University provides exceptional educational opportunities within a Christian environment, preparing students to think critically, to succeed professionally, and to serve faithfully as members of their communities.