Anyone who has taken a class or even just had a conversation with Professor of Theatre Arts Richard “Rick” Hyde knows his quick wit, love of intelligent discussions about movies and theatre and concern for students. Some may not know that he is retiring after 27 years at Hiram.
Hyde joined Hiram College as an adjunct faculty member in the late 1980s because he says he needed a change of life and, relatable, a job. In 1990 a full-time position in the Theatre Arts Department opened. Robert Moeller, who was not only the department chair but as Hyde describes the “department’s heart and soul for many years,” encouraged Hyde to interview for the post.
“I picked Hiram because I needed a job, but I stayed here because I found a place I felt I could do work that I loved with people I loved even more,” Hyde says.
One of his first memories of teaching at Hiram involved his first term theatre history class during which the entire class cross-dressed for their “Final Project,” a midnight staged reading of Lysistrata.
How did it go?
“Aristophanes would have been proud,” Hyde says.
Hyde says that the College has allowed him to tackle a variety of quirky and difficult plays that challenged the actors and conventions of audiences. Hyde has always been focused on presenting intriguing plays rather than ones that will fill the seats, although he has managed to do both. Some of the plays include the bizarre, comical and norm-challenging Ubu Roi, complete with moving seats for the audience. He has always sought to bring something offbeat to the theatre department, ranging from a “Desert Storm” take on Romeo and Juliet his first year to the most recent casino-based Measure for Measure.
Hyde follows the same immersive style when teaching his classes. Two of those classes, “Storytelling in the Natural World” and “The Story of Water” (team-taught with Colleen Fried), take students to Northwoods Field Station where they explore the topics and subject themselves to a different way of life. In this fashion, he also leads students on study-abroad trips by taking their curious natures and pushing them further.
“It is great to take them to places to see the things they learn [about] in a classroom become real to them,” he explains.“They often discover that learning is not something they have to do to pass a course or maintain a GPA, but an enjoyable part of a well-rounded, happy life.”
Never fear, those who are afraid they will not see Hyde around anymore. He’ll be retiring from Hiram College, but will remain in town. He says he will do his best to “stay in the moment” and assumes he will “bother” his colleagues by showing up to classes and campus events because he enjoys the stimulation it brings. He might not play Call of Duty, but never say never.
A last piece of advice?
“It is quite easy to retreat to familiar environs and even reject different or new experiences as uninteresting or unsuitable,” says Hyde. “I don’t just mean students on their phones in my classroom but also grandmothers who post grandkid pics incessantly, or gamers who talk about their avatars as real acquaintances, or people who identify their cats as relations. Curiosity is dying. It has become uncool to be fascinated by things other than those which propel our own little fiefdom, and I think that is too bad. We need to fight the feeling that isolation from other people is comfortable and continue to engage in real, personal interaction.”