FSU’s London Study Center is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in the 2021/2022 academic year. On September 30th, alumni who attended Theatre Academy London gathered for a virtual celebration, at which the newly endowed Fred Chappell Award for London Theatre Study was announced.
After his retirement in 2020 from FSU School of Theatre, Fred Chappell, Emeritus Professor, knew that giving back to students would be a big part of his post-teaching days.
“As a theatre professor, I want all our students to exit FSU with the best foundation possible. Yet in my 34 years as a professor, I witnessed far too many students who struggled and turned down opportunities for growth due to financial issues.”
One of those oft-missed opportunities is Study Abroad.
“In the early 90’s, I had the opportunity to teach at FSU’s London Study Center. What a fantastic and unique experience for a student to study where English-speaking theatre has its roots! I returned from a semester abroad and began work, with colleagues, on what would later become FSU Theatre Academy London.”
Each year, students in FSU’s Top 20 MFA Acting program and BFA Acting program participate in Theatre Academy London, along with dozens of School of Theatre students whose focus areas range from production to teaching. The Academy offers classes taught by a distinguished faculty, including some of London’s leading theatre artists, alongside visits to The Globe Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon and a variety of theatre performances.
“There was no doubt that this once-in-a-lifetime experience was something I wanted to help provide. The impact is life-long,” said Chappell.
In summer 2021, Chappell made a gift to endow the Fred Chappell Scholarship for London Theatre Study. As an endowed gift, the principle is invested by the FSU Foundation so that interest earned can be used annually to support a student. In this way, Chappell’s gift will provide a legacy of support long into the future. He was recently recognized as Emeritus Professor by FSU.
FSU London Director Kathleen Paul noted, “Fred’s generosity will benefit London theatre students for years to come. I am so very pleased for those students of the future and so very grateful to him. We share the belief that what happens today – in the classroom, on a stage, during a cultural excursion, or in an office – shapes students’ lives and outlook for years to come. It is a privilege to play a part in the personal and professional development of our students as, by studying abroad, they gain cultural capital by immersing themselves in another culture and society.”
“This incredible gift by our longtime friend and colleague will provide an amazing new opportunity that will allow more students from the School of Theatre to participate in the Theatre Academy London” said FSU School of Theatre Director Dr. Brad Brock. “Fred’s influence on our students’ education will continue in yet another meaningful way,” noted FSU School of Theatre Chair Dr. Kris Salata.
The first recipient of the Fred Chappell Award for London Theatre Study will be announced in Spring 2022 and will travel to London in the summer or fall.
About Fred Chappell
Fred Chappell began his theatrical career as an actor after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Rollins College in Florida. He worked with several regional theaters, including the Barter in Abingdon, Va. In 1969, he made it to Broadway, appearing in “Red, White and Maddox,” a tale of the former ax-handle-wielding governor of his home state, Georgia. Chappell went on to direct for the stage.
In the late 1970’s, Chappell joined the Alliance Theatre of Atlanta as its Artistic Director. In his nine seasons, the theatre grew to play to the second-largest regional theater audience in the country and featured such acclaimed actors as Morgan Freeman, Jane Alexander, and Richard Dreyfuss.
In 1986, Chappell was recruited to Florida State University, where he taught and mentored students in the FSU School of Theatre for thirty-four years before his retirement in 2020. Through his time at FSU, Chappell helmed the MFA Directing program, directed more than thirty productions, served on the committees of more than 50 graduate students, and inspired hundreds of undergraduate students.
Chappell first taught in London through FSU International Programs in 1994, then set about helping to create the School of Theatre/International Program’s Theatre London Study Program in 1996. In the decades since, the program has served as a transformative experience for the lives and careers of theatre students. Through this fund, Chappell hopes to ease the financial barrier for one or more students to study abroad with the Theatre London Study Program.
Gifts to the Fred Chappell Award for London Theatre Studies can be made online at https://give.fsu.edu/fredchappell.