Professor Joe Mattys attended
R-MC's recent Theatre Alumni Reunion.
-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Randolph-Macon College Professor Joe Mattys is an active leader, faculty member,
theatre director, and chair of the Arts Department.
This summer, he is mentoring SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate
Research Fellowship) student Alexandra Burgess ’14, whose project is titled Research
and Production of The Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh. Mattys will also
continue his work as a member of a committee that is charged with finding alternative
models of the First-Year Experience (FYE) format
Mattys earned his B.A. at Colorado College, where he discovered his affection for
what he calls the “small-school atmosphere.” He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree
with his wife—R-MC Communication Studies
Professor Marilyn Mattys—at the University of Virginia, where he directed theatre.
Mattys, who joined the R-MC faculty in 1990, describes his work here as “very rewarding.”
Over the past several years, he has taught two FYE courses: Drama, Dialogue, and
Dialectic (with Philosophy Professor Ben
Huff) and Identity (with Psychology Professor
Kristen Klaaren). He has also taught courses on acting, directing, theatre history,
and dramatic literature.
Mattys looks forward to taking students in his Arts in London class to England during
January Term (J-term) 2014; this will be his fifth
J-term trip. Participants will attend a variety of performances—Shakespeare, a contemporary
British play, a ballet, and more. They will also visit museums and tour the reconstruction
of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
At Home in the Theatre
In addition to teaching, Mattys produces a variety of plays in his favorite place
on campus, Cobb Theatre in Blackwell
Auditorium, R-MC Center for Performing Arts.
“Working in the theatre is analogous to research in another department,” Mattys
explains. He and the student actors “research origins of the written play…and study
the nature of human behavior.” He thinks fondly about times when he has witnessed
an actor’s “moment”—which he defines as either an internal feeling of perfecting
a scene, or the reception of a positive audience reaction to a performance. “It
makes me very happy,” he says.
Mattys passed down his love for the theatre to his children, who “grew up participating
in A Christmas Carol,” a crowd favorite that Marilyn Mattys wrote and the
department produces every winter at R-MC. Both of their children studied theatre
in college; their son earned a role as an extra in the movie "Lincoln" and their
daughter wrote The Matter of Martin, which was recently produced at R-MC.
In 2009, R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren and a selection committee designated
Mattys as the recipient of the Samuel
Nelson Gray award, which was presented during Honors Convocation. Additionally,
the informal recognition from alumni, fellow faculty, and students that Mattys has
received throughout the years has been equally meaningful to him.
“I was an actor who learned to be a director and a teacher,” he says. Mattys encourages
his students and colleagues to “listen carefully…hear what people are really saying.
This also connects to the notion of patience…and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
Mattys, who has been teaching at R-MC for more than 20 years, will retire in 2014.
“I can’t wait to spend more time with my grandson,” he says.