Marilyn McCormick, Cass Tech drama teacher of 40 years, was honored with a Tony Award for Excellence in Theater Education last weekend.
McCormick says theater is a way of life for her. Born and raised in Pittsburg, she says civic operas were as much a part of her childhood as going to the zoo is for most children. She says her interest in theater started when she was in the hospital for a few years with physical limitations.
“I think then my imagination just took over,” says McCormick.
The arts were booming when she was hired in the 1970s, she says, but now seem to be the first thing to be cut. However, McCormick says, the Cass Tech program has been well-protected. She credits this in part to the fact that they don’t do “typical high school theater” and her students meet that challenge.
“They’re reading a little bit more, they’re analyzing,” says McCormick. “It provides another way to approach learning and understanding material.”
McCormick says she wants to teach her students how to succeed as professionals in the business, not necessarily to become famous, but to have decent quality of life. She says she and her colleagues often tell people that they are a pre-professional training program. Her goal is to prepare students to win their own Tony awards.
“I never once thought the table would turn.” she says of her award. “I felt like Dorothy and I was not in Kansas anymore. I was over the rainbow.”
To hear more of McCormick’s conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.
Watch McCormick’s acceptance speech from the Tony Awards, here: