Roger and Allyson Moon, assistant professors of theatre, work side by side on upcoming productioins. The Moons have been at Southwestern for 25 years. (Erica Dunigan/Collegian photographer)

By Erica Dunigan
Staff reporter
A long winding journey, plus a summer theatre program brought theatre alumni back to their alma mater. Roger and Allyson Moon, associate professors of theatre, have been impacting students for 23 years.

It wasn’t an easy task for the Moons to come back to Winfield to teach. “When they offered us the job, I really wasn’t for sure if I was ready to come back,” said Roger. “I didn’t want to feel like the Winfield kid. I really wanted to find myself.”

Roger grew up in Winfield. He was unsure about continuing the family tradition of attending Southwestern College. “I grew up around theatre. I attended Campus Player productions and took private lessons starting at an early age,” said Roger. “Later on during high school I ended up taking lessons from Helen Graham. My life was so intertwined with Southwestern, therefore I looked at going somewhere else for school.”

Roger changed his mind when he helped with a production directed by Norman Callison in 1966. “I had worked on a production backstage and something clicked,” said Roger. “I decided that I wanted to work more with this man and that’s when I decided to attend Southwestern College.”

After graduating college in 1970, Roger was offered a teaching position at Buhler High School. It was there that Roger met Allyson. They started dating after Allyson graduated high school in 1972 and later married while Allyson attended Hutchinson Community College. Little did they know a summer program would become a big part of their lives.

“A summer theatre program called ‘Horsefeathers and Applesauce’ had started at SC and really made me more attracted to this place as a place to attend college,” said Allyson. “After graduating HCC we moved back to Winfield. I earned my degree and we had our first son Geoffrey.”

As Allyson worked towards earning her degree, Roger worked as adjunct professor of theatre.

The Moons left Winfield and headed North East after Allyson graduated in 1976. They both went to graduate school at Emporia State University in 1979. After graduate school Roger became a professor at Ottawa University, while Allyson worked at Central Heights High School and also part time at Ottawa University.

Allyson said, “We really enjoyed working together, but as our family grew, we felt that we were hiring out, having people take care of our children, our house, it felt like a three ring circus and the rings were not going to come into contact with one another.”

Then two theatre positions opened at Southwestern in 1987.

“We really thought we were on track to heading out of the state, probably up to Minneapolis, to pursue theatre professionally or in the academic area,” said Allyson. “So, when we received the offer for both of us to work in theatre together, that was just an offer we could not say ‘no’ to.”

In the summer of 1987, the theatre program “Horsefeathers and Applesauce” returned. The Moons returned to help revive the program.

“It really was the best of both worlds to be able to come back and to realize our own potentials,” said Roger. “This opportunity gave us a chance to get ourselves into the same circus here and in the same ring.”

After helping with the program the Moons accepted the job offer in 1988.  “Our teachers that we had here challenged us, pushed us so far, and really educated us,” said Roger. “We didn’t want to come back here on faculty until we knew that we had inside ourselves what we needed in order to be able to do what we perceived to be done here.”

Many changes have occurred since the Moons arrived to teach in 1988. New equipment has been installed and Richardson Auditorium has been newly renovated in 2011.

“Why wouldn’t we want to be here? We have these new toys to play with, from a new tech center and bigger space to work in,” said Allyson. “We have everything we need here and we are also able to collaborate with different departments. Not many other schools get that opportunity.”

But, it’s not the renovation that brought and kept the Moons here. It’s watching the students grow not only as performers, but as a people.

Cody Davis, class of 2011, said, “I have learned more about what it means to be a genuinely good person and truly care for others than anything I could have hoped to learn in any academic area in any classroom.”

The Moons plan to stay. The college and community have become a major part of their lives.

“It’s not about what you have. It’s about what you do with what you have. Challenging students to do really great work with the tools that they have and seeing where they go in life after SC is why we became teachers,” said Roger. “We could have not made a better decision than to come back to SC.”

Erica Dunigan is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at erica.dunigan@sckans.edu