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"Big Red Celebration" This Month Will Honor Popular U of M Theatre Professors University News
For release: August 31, 2010

For press information, contact Alice Berry, 901-678-3184

Longtime University of Memphis theatre professors Gloria Baxter and Susan Chrietzberg have been more than teachers; they have inspired generations of artists and made a lasting impression on many lives. Gifted artists themselves, they have given openly as educators, mentors, storytellers, and friends.

The Department of Theatre & Dance will honor both women with a Big Red Celebration on Labor Day weekend. On Saturday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. there will be a performance on the main stage by alumni from the generations of students who have worked with Baxter and Chrietzberg, featuring excerpts from shows and dances they directed and choreographed over the years. After the show, the curtain will rise on a party set backstage where so many memories have been created.

On Sunday, Sept. 5, at 11:30 a.m. there will be a family barbecue picnic, offering a chance to honor Baxter and Chrietzberg and for alumni to reconnect.

The cost to attend both days’ events is $30.

In addition to celebrating Baxter’s years of service to the University, the Department of Theatre & Dance is creating an enrichment fund in her honor. The fund will support U of M students especially interested in creating new works for the theatre.

Reunion registration or donations to the fund can be made online at or by contacting Alice Berry at 901-678-3184 or

Baxter retired Dec. 31, 2008, concluding a 44-year career at the University. She is teaching two courses a year as a professor emeritus through spring 2012. Among Baxter’s many original stage productions are her narrative theatre adaptations of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Le Grand Meaulnes, As I Lay Dying, One Writer’s Beginnings, Einstein’s Dreams, Wapiti Wilderness, and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

Honors for her script adaptations and stage direction include a first-place award at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and featured presentations of her work in Paris and New York. In recent years, she has been an invited guest-artist-in-residence at the University of Burgundy, The Ohio State University, the Teton Science School and the Murie Center in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Chrietzberg also retired in 2008, after 29 years at the University. She, too, is continuing to work with students as a professor emeritus, teaching two courses a year through spring 2012. Chrietzberg received her M.Ed. degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 1968. She joined the U of M faculty as an artist-in-residence in 1981 and as a full-time faculty member in 1984. Her teaching specialties are in the areas of physical theatre, mime, stage combat, and Asian theatre. Her training includes work with Etienne Decroux, Jacques LeCoq, Thomas Leabhart, and Joseph Martinez.

Chrietzberg serves as choreographer and director for the department’s productions. She has made extensive workshop, guest artist, and performance appearances at regional, national, and international venues such as Lincoln Center, the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Her work has also appeared at the International Faulkner Festival, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, and the Murie Center in Grand Teton National Park.

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