Creator of Salomon Theatre retires

After 37 years at PLNU and building Salomon Theatre from the ground up, Paul Bassett will retire this year. Bassett is the manager and artistic director of Salomon Theatre, a professor of communications and theatre arts, and director of one play a year at PLNU.

Bassett, known by his students as “Doc,” said he is OK with his decision to resign.

“I’ve felt for all these years that I was supposed to be here,” Doc said. “That it was a calling for me to be here. When the program was cut, it meant that either that calling was over, or the school was going on a different path.”

He said this prioritization changes a lot of how things will go forward.

“It depends on how you prioritize,” said Doc, referencing the school’s decision to drop the theatre major. “If all we are looking at is numbers and income, then yes, we have a low number. Talking of narrative and involvement in students’ lives, if that isn’t important, well then it makes sense.”

Doc has been a mentor to many students over the years, one being Katie Emma Filby, who had to make the tough decision to transfer schools after her program was dropped, leaving her favorite teacher.

“To me, Doc was the most valuable part of PLNU,” said Filby. “Hearing he was going to retire in spring completely confirmed my decision to transfer.”

“An Evening with Doc” was an event held March 28 in Nicholson Commons to recognize Doc’s 37 years of service to PLNU and to celebrate his retirement this spring. Around 100 staff members, past and current students and family members of Doc all gathered for dinner where people to reminisce with the man of the evening. The night ended in Salomon Theatre where alumni theater students, organized by alumnus Greg Henninger, performed their favorite scenes they had worked on with Doc. Following this, a video, created by the Department of Communications & Theatre, was shown featuring all the department members talking about their favorite memories of Doc.

Bassett’s mentor, James Jackson, former department chair and professor emeritus, said that what was remarkable about Bassett was his vision for this department.

“He had a dream about Salomon Theatre, about what it might become,” said Jackson. “And Paul, thank you for keeping your dream and letting us all see what it has become.”

Previous students, Sheryl Smee, Stephen Fletcher, Mary Crill and Jessica Bird gave speeches. Bird became choked up as she said how wholeheartedly Doc devoted and invested time and energy into his students, changing lives.

“In movement two, we were all taught to take off the mask of life and learn to truly live who we are,” said Bird. “Doc gave the space for all of us to do that and I can honestly say I’m a different person because of that.”

Media communications professor Alan Hueth spoke to how Bassett helped him acquaint himself at PLNU.

“He is a really solid guy; he helped me understand this place better. He is truly a joy to have as a colleague and friend and I’m really going to miss him,” said Hueth.

Fellow theatre and communications professor Walter Williams talked about the amazing legacy that Bassett was leaving behind and how no one could replace the passion that he put into the theatre.

“The reality is that I could never be as passionate as Paul has been about theater here. It amazes me, it humbles me, it embarrasses me,” Williams said. “I was amazed tonight when I saw all the faces that came back here. I was amazed at your legacy, cause that’s what it is.”

Director of Forensics and professor of communications Skip Rutledge will be taking over Doc’s role as the head of the department.

Doc addressed all who attended this event on his Facebook.

“Thanks to all of my wonderful family, friends, and extended theatre family for a celebration that I will always remember and treasure,” he said. “It was a joyous time together and all of you are so special to me. Thanks for your kind words and love.”