Beth Ooi

PhD Student, Medieval and Byzantine Studies

2006 Alumni

Biography

English and Theater Studies minor, 2006 B.A., Summa cum laude
Washington, DC
M.A., English Language and Literature, 2010
Graduate student and Research Assistant, Department of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, The Catholic University

Since Emory

Before graduation I had secured an apprenticeship at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. I worked in the Development office there for nine months, then moved to Boston to be with my now-husband, Robert Ooi (also a theater-at-Emory alum!). In Boston I was the editorial assistant for The Beacon Street Girls, a series of novels and a website for preteen girls. In 2008, Rob and I both began grad school in Washington, DC. I finished my masters in English Language and Literature in 2010, and I’m currently doing coursework for a Ph.D. in Medieval and Byzantine Studies (focusing on medieval English literature).

Current activities

Lots of reading and writing! I’m a graduate student. :)

Highlights from theater at Emory

I was involved in an Ad Hoc production every semester of my time at Emory. Elaine Binder was kind enough to take a chance on a couple of freshman – Dan Bayer and me – to cast us in her revue, (Not) Only to Entertain, in fall 2008. I remember especially how impressed my parents were with the quality of the show. I had performed in forty (!) community theater productions at home in Alabama, but they could tell that NOTE, and Ad Hoc, were really something special. I played Baby Louise (and the dancing cow’s rear end) in Anne Maxwell’s Gypsy; I was ASM and spot op for Christina Wallace’s You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!; I played Andrea in Alex Newell’s Once on This Island; I choreographed Sarah Powers’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Andrew Simon’s Bat Boy: The Musical; and I played Catherine in Christina Wallace’s directing project, Proof. Along the way, I was also treasurer of Ad Hoc and president of Alpha Psi Omega. Then, in fall 2005, I finally got to direct my own show: Sweet Charity. Twenty-five cast and crew members worked with me to get that show up. I certainly learned a lot about leadership!

In retrospect

Ad Hoc gave me a sense of belonging at Emory. In my current position I’ve counseled students who are considering leaving CUA, and so I often I hear the complaints “I don’t fit in” or “there’s nothing to do on campus.” Theater at Emory eliminated those problems for me from my first week as a freshman. I had an instant set of companions and responsibilities that kept me both busy and happy outside of class.

As an English-professor-in-training, what I learned as an actor/choreographer/director and Theater Studies minor at Emory continues to inform my scholarship and teaching. Most of all, I took away a respect for the physical aspect of theater. As both a teacher and student in many English literature classes, I’ve been consistently amazed at how many people – especially grad students and professors – treat only the text, ignoring questions of performance. I’ve encountered scholars who specialize in Shakespeare, but have never themselves performed in a play! Theater at Emory gave me a more holistic perspective on drama, which I always try to share with my own literature students.

And probably the most important thing I took away from theater at Emory … is a husband! I saw Rob for the first time when he walked into auditions for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and we got married in 2010. :)