The Shakespeare & Performance (S&P) program at MBU has established a new visiting artist position thanks to the generosity of donor Mary McDermott. Her gift will make possible a decade’s worth of visiting artists, giving students opportunities to work closely with expert practitioners and scholars of Shakespeare and the theatre.  

“The McDermott Visiting Artist program is a real tide-raiser for us, in that we’ll be able to embed a visiting artist with our students, full time, every spring,” said Paul Menzer, S&P director. “Those McDermott artists will not only aid and abet our outstanding resident faculty but bring new voices, new perspectives, and new skills to our community.”

The first visiting artist will be Allison Glenzer, actor with the American Shakespeare Center. A member of their resident troupe since 2007, she has performed more than 181 roles in 97 productions.

Glenzer, who specializes in vocal work, will teach classes on voice and also on careers for the master of fine arts program through S&P. She will also bring her talents to directing, show supervision and observation, and voice coaching.

“It’s nearly impossible to calculate the way this program will ramify, since each student who works with the visiting artist will pass that experience on when they graduate,” Menzer said. “Truly, this gift will redound across the years.”

With 35 years of experience as a telecom lawyer, McDermott is the senior vice president and general counsel for Lumos Networks, a fiber-based telecom company headquartered in Waynesboro.

A leader in the community, McDermott serves on the board of directors of the Blue Ridge Community College Foundation and on the advisory board of the Waynesboro Salvation Army. Previously, she was a board of trustees member of the American Shakespeare Center from 2011 to 2017, serving as chairman from 2013 to 2016. She is also a member of the Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors, a network of private investors that help fund entrepreneurial enterprises located in Shenandoah Valley communities.  

(From left to right) Ralph Alan Cohen, co-founder and director of mission at the American Shakespeare Center and Professor of English, stands with Allison Glenzer, Mary McDermott, and Paul Menzer. Photo by Phoebe West.