Judith Royer, C.S.J., has been honored with a lifetime achievement award for her 40-year career dedicated to developing and fostering the talents of theatre students. Royer, a theatre arts professor at Loyola Marymount University, received the honor from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival on Feb. 14 in Los Angeles.
“Thousands of faculty and hundreds of thousands of students have been influenced and shaped by the generous rigor of Professor Royer,” said Rodger D. Sorensen, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at Brigham Young University, in announcing the award.
“Sister Royer’s presence in the department is a blessed and welcome one,” said Kevin Wetmore, professor and chair of the Theatre Arts Department at LMU. “Her dedication to the development of new work and to theatre as a form of social justice, allowing students to engage in the community and use their art to make the world a better place, are in many ways the heart of what we do in LMU theatre.”
Since 1969, the Kennedy Center theatre festival has given more than 400,000 college and university theatre students the opportunity to have their work evaluated, to improve their dramatic skills, and to receive national recognition for excellence. Royer conceived and developed the Region VIII Respondents Workshop, which many other regions observed and subsequently instituted. The purpose of the workshop is to give constructive, structured feedback on the students’ work as a complete theatre-going experience.
“Sister Judith is THE reason I came to LMU,” said Marc Valera, a working actor and 1997 LMU graduate with a B.A. in theatre arts. “I had known Sister Judith through [the Kennedy Center theatre festival] where she commands great admiration and respect. … Beyond having an overall brilliant theater mind, she beautifully teaches the most vital of acting disciplines, text analysis. It is the same work that I do now whether the job is for a play for hundreds or a TV show for millions.”
In addition to her work in the Theatre Department, Royer is also director of the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice, which was established at LMU in 2012 and is host to forums on social justice topics and is a resource for education and reflective action.
Royer, who has taught at LMU for more than 40 years, has directed more than 35 plays and 40 original scripts in the United States and British Isles. She has worked as a producer, director and dramaturge with new play development programs sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Playwrights Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum and Theatre Gallery in Los Angeles, of which she is the founder and former artistic director. Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, celebrates Sister Royer in her efforts of “expanding the social consciousness of the power of performance; coupling critical aesthetics with the arts that do justice.” He adds, “Her presence in the Theatre Arts Program and at LMU is testament to the quality of an LMU education. I am pleased to have her as a faculty member, and even more so, the ability to call her a colleague and friend.”