Passion for acting, directing drives popular theatre professor

When it comes to interesting professors here at the University of Detroit Mercy, few rival the passion and boisterous personality that accompany Associate Professor of Theatre Andrew Papa.

Growing up in college towns with both of his parents being professors, a strong value on education was impressed on him from a young age. However, he never thought that he would end up in the same profession as his parents, but he did know that he loved theatre.

At Central Michigan University, he majored in Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts.

He had some varied interests in Communications as well as television and film. When gathering experience in the many forms of broadcasting and acting, he realized that TV and film were not his passions, but he loved radio. He got a lot of experience working on audio dramas and even worked for the university radio station WCMU.

It was while assisting with a workshop for incoming students his junior year called “Save the Theatre,” that someone came up to him and told him he could do well in education.

“I guess I could,” Papa said.

According to Papa, most graduate students enter right after receiving their undergraduate degree, but theatre majors tend to get a few years of experience in between.

Papa began considering graduate school and eventually decided upon Wayne State. At this time, WSU was a repertoire theatre program in which he would be performing in two to three shows at a time, so he was able to get a lot of stage time.

After graduating from WSU, he and his wife moved into an apartment and began teaching and acting wherever he could find work and then found his way to UDM.

Papa started his position here at UDM in 2015 and has thoroughly enjoyed working as a professor in the CLAE Theatre Department.

“We’re a small school in a big city,” he said. “That’s not something that happens very often.”

He says he’s loved his time working with UDM’s theatre program.

“What I really love about teaching here is that we are a unique program in how often we bring in professional guest artists to mentor and teach,” Papa said.

Papa’s involvement with the De- troit Mercy Theatre Company began with “It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play.”

He has thoroughly enjoyed acting, directing and experiencing all the plays he has seen and participated in since then.

Most notably, he directed Season 51’s “The Norwegians,” which was the group’s first production after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a temporary halt to shows.

However, of all the shows he’s done, his first directed show “Bus Stop” shines above.

“Beautiful script, wonderful set, great cast, remarkable show,” Papa said.

Papa has continued to bring his zeal and passion for the theatre to his current students and those involved with the Detroit Mercy Theatre Company.

“I’ve never seen a man more passionate about the arts,” said Junior Theatre major Adam El-Zein.

“Few professors have approached their craft with the sensitivity and depth that Andrew Papa has,” said Jeremy St. Martin, a Junior Theatre major.

“He has offered insight that have given me a turning point in my career.”