With R-MC being a liberal arts college, one can guarantee their professors will have experience in their field of teaching. For Professor Foster Solomon, experience in drama not only means teaching acting classes; it also means having been an actor in the nineties, an editor, director, writer, cinematographer and producer.
Solomon said this love of theatre started when he was in ninth grade after he suffered a second injury from playing sports.
“I broke my second ankle in football and I thought, ‘Forget this, theatre is much more fun’,” Solomon said. “So I stuck with that and went off to college in St. Louis and just started working professionally after that in St. Louis and ended up in New York for a while, Louisville, Kentucky with Kentucky Shakespeare Festival; from a very early age, I got into Shakespeare and it was my main passion.”
This passion led Solomon to work and teach in New York and Los Angeles at different institutions while also acting professionally before joining the Richmond Theatre community in 2000.
Here at R-MC as a visiting professor, Solomon has brought his expertise in the field into the classroom to make for a unique experience for students pursuing theatre.
“I really enjoy the fact that he does not have such an air of formality as other professors have,” senior Allen Black said. “For example, we can call him Foster, and it just makes it easier to express your ideas to him as Director or Professor.”
As a colleague, Solomon has been an integral part in the growth of the drama department.
“Professor Solomon has been a good colleague and a strong supporter of the Arts Department here at R-MC,” Drama Program Director Gregg Hillmar said. “Even though he is just a visiting professor with only a one-year contract, he has been active in faculty meetings and departmental meetings. So he has been very willing to embrace his faculty responsibilities, including creating a new Theatre course in Global Drama to fill out his teaching responsibilities.
“Professor Solomon brings a different type of acting and directing training to R-MC than what we had before,” Hillmar continued. “It is a very good idea for students to be exposed to different types of acting styles, and a very good thing to get different viewpoints on approaches to theatre. Professor Solomon has also been very active and supportive in the production process; a necessity in a two-person department. In addition, he has been active in recruiting activities at high school theatre festivals and events.”
In addition to making the classroom atmosphere more welcoming, Solomon has also been instrumental in helping students get necessary experience in the field.
“He has extended countless opportunities to the students he has worked with,” sophomore Sydney Hinkle said. “He has helped seniors to find internship opportunities that will lead to employment. Underclassmen were invited to participate in a professional production where we made a number of connections with professional performers and directors. He has broadened the horizons of his students tremendously, and will hopefully have the opportunity to do so in the future.”
Solomon said he has enjoyed teaching at R-MC this year, attributing it to the faculty atmosphere and the “independent nature” of students here.
“Someone described Randolph-Macon students as very ‘game’ which I like that a lot as well, very much just like ‘let’s try something, let’s do something’,” Solomon said.
“‘We’re open to whatever it is you want to try,’ and that’s wonderfully refreshing compared to a lot of other places that I’ve taught which very much have the attitude of one of the most dangerous phrases in human history, which is, ‘We’ve always done it this way’.”
Solomon said he hopes the program can continue to grow into an acclaimed theatre training program in the region, with more classes in stage combat, Shakespeare, musicals and theatre as a business offered within the next five to 10 years.
-Naoko Branker ’15, Editor-in-Chief