It all began with a church play featuring shepherds in choir robes and beards made from plastic bags. A young boy sat enthralled in the audience during this first encounter with theatre and let the characters performing on stage fascinate him. That boy, Clyde Ruffin, would eventually grow up to become Professor and Chair of Theatre at MU and Founding Director of the World Theatre Workshop. Years later, Ruffin admits that theatre is still where his heart is.
Although Ruffin emphasizes that many of his productions are dear to him, the works that resonate as unforgettable are Langston Hughes’ Tambourines to Glory and the Black Theatre Workshop’s Strands. In Tambourines, he worked with a predominantly African American cast, and the production sold out every night. Strands took two years to create, won various playwriting awards, and was a regional and national winner at the American College Theatre Festival.