Creativity with a Focus on Comedy

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Alice Stanley (C’10)
Actor, Playwright, Teacher

Alice Stanley’s passion for theatre, and especially improv comedy, began her freshman year at the College, when she acted in mainstage productions and joined Lazy Zipper, Principia’s improv group. Today, after earning an MFA in dramatic writing from Arizona State University, she moves seamlessly between professional roles as a performer, writer, and educator.

Stanley’s work has been produced all across the country—from Alaska (Last Frontier Theatre Festival) to Maine (ImprovAcadia). A cast member for the two premier comedy theatres in Chicago, iO and Second City Theatricals, she has also toured with the improvised musical Baby Wants Candy. As a playwright, Stanley won the Chicago Dramatists’ New Play Bake-Off at the Goodman Theatre and the Mary Scruggs Works by Women Festival at Second City. Stanley also teaches theatre and English at Chicago City Colleges and at arts organizations for underserved youth.

“Principia uniquely prepared me for a creative career,” Stanley says. “I honed my basic performance chops in Lazy Zipper and under the tutelage of the incredibly supportive Theatre and Dance Department. And in grad school, my professors were always impressed by the depth of critical theory knowledge I brought to play analysis, which I owe entirely to my rigorous English classes with Dr. Lynn Horth (US’74, C’78) and Dr. Heidi Snow (C’79).”

When English Professor Dinah Ryan (C’78) recognized Stanley’s willingness to take initiative and her keen interest in theatre, she encouraged her to write a play for her senior capstone project. Stanley wrote a full-length play and produced it on campus. “At Principia, I learned not to wait for opportunities,” Stanley says, “and I’ve been making my own way ever since—from reaching out to casting directors to creating a one-woman show.”

Stanley also notes the value of developing a foundation in creative work that doesn’t rely on alcohol or other drugs. “My Lazy Zipper friends were the funniest people I knew, and we didn’t need to drink to celebrate a show or get high to write a good scene,” Stanley comments. “It’s a relief that I don’t ever feel distracted by the partying element of the industry. I’m grateful to Principia for setting a focused and joyful tone for my artistic journey.”

This article first appeared in the Winter 2018 Purpose.