PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Associate Professor of Theatre Elizabeth Cox has been devoted to fostering her students’ confidence, love of words, and ability to breathe life into a playwright’s characters throughout her 13 years of service to Plymouth State University.
In honor of her creativity, skill and service, her colleagues and students selected Cox as the University’s 2008 Distinguished Teacher.
Cox joined the PSU Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance in 1995. In 2004 she was named director of theatre.
She has studied acting, sign language, speech pathology and counseling—all skills she uses daily at PSU.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in speech and dramatic art from the University of Missouri–Columbia, followed by a Master of Education in rehabilitation counseling with a concentration in counseling for the deaf and hearing impaired two years later. In 1992 she earned an MFA in acting at the University of North Carolina¬–Greensboro.
Directing and performing are among Cox’s strongest passions. She particularly relishes the opportunity to act with her students. “They need to see my own personal technique, my own struggles with character, and how I work in rehearsal and performance,” Cox said.
In addition to directing, and teaching acting and voice and diction, Cox teaches a full-year sequence of sign language in the Department of Languages and Linguistics.
“Teaching sign language is another way for me to extend my acting technique, as sign is about conceptualizing
thoughts into a pictorial language with many physical nuances to indicate emotion and meaning.
Teaching a new language to students is hard, but I try to make my love of learning something new and my acting technique foster a fun learning laboratory,” Cox said.
Cox also works as a professional actor; her most recent appearances have been at the Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth and the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Laconia.
In April, Cox coordinated the first annual New Hampshire Professional Theatre Association auditions at PSU. More than 80 students from colleges and universities throughout the state attended and auditioned for New Hampshire-based theatre companies.
As a teacher, Cox believes in nurturing her students’ talent and encourages them to get to know themselves before immersing themselves in a role. By doing so, explained Cox, students “become more open to making bolder choices in characterizations and in life decisions.”
“It is my objective to provide students with tools for life. My former students are currently performers, teachers, stage managers, designers and arts administrators,” said Cox. “Theatre has provided them with people and personal skills.
As Hamlet’s advice to the players indicates, I teach the craft of acting to ‘suit the action to the word, the word to the action….’”