Psychology professor and theater undergraduate student, Kathy Nevins, performs as “Ma” in Bethel’s fall production of “The God of Isaac” by James Sherman.
Christine Ramstad | Features Editor
Kathy Nevins leads her fellow cast mates in prayer and warm-ups before rehearsal begins in the Bethel Theatre for the fall production: “God of Isaac” by James Sherman. At age 66, the Bethel psychology professor of over 30 years is pursuing a B.A. in Theatre Arts, having performed in roughly 25 Bethel theater productions.
Kathy has served on Bethel’s faculty since 1977: longer than any other female faculty member. She began as a Resident Director and basketball coach before becoming a counselor and professor of psychology.
Kathy’s journey to the stage began when a friend recommended her to a woman directing a short theater piece, looking to work with middle-aged women with no theater experience.
It was “coincidentally or providentially” the right moment, Kathy said.
“I woke up one day, middle aged, and was thinking about that ‘what do you want to do with the rest of your life’ question,” Kathy said.
She’s still is at loss for words to describe the impact acting in the piece had on her life. “I still struggle to explain it, it was a peak experience in psychological terms.”
After the performances, Kathy wrestled to make sense of the internal experience she had while creating theater. Through talking with others, Kathy confirmed she had a spiritual experience.
“I don’t remember any of the names of the women [in the piece] but we were on some higher plane while working and having moments of connection. I thought, ‘wow I want more of this,’” Kathy said.
Kathy’s involvement in theater at Bethel began in 1995 when she auditioned for the department’s production of “The House of Bernarda Alba.” Kathy recalls being in line for food when a theater student approached her to congratulate her on getting the lead role.
Before acting, Kathy wrote music. In fact, her record, “Hey Friend,” featuring all original folk-style music, sold on eBay to a collector for over $400- a discovery that shocked Kathy after a coworker showed her the eBay listing. Kathy’s music is downloadable on iTunes.
Kathy participates as a student in Bethel’s theater courses. She enjoys the structure of the classroom setting and also the opportunity to collaborate and work with the theater students.
Nathan Strecker, a sophomore performing as Isaac Adams in the fall play, practices his lines with Kathy over dinner in the DC. Other times, “Kathy will just come up to me and say a random line from our scene and we will run the whole scene no matter where we are at Bethel,” Nathan said.
According to Kathy, theater is about the relationships and moments of connecting with others.
While Kathy connects with other people through theater arts she says, “I don’t want to underplay the pursuit of the Holy. This is a journey that pursues the Holy. Frankly, there are shows that it doesn’t happen and shows where out the blue- it’s there.”
“I’m about to reach an age of transition,” Kathy said, when reflecting on her decision to pursue a theater degree. “I’m thinking about what I have here that I won’t have in the next phase.” Kathy experiences a piece of the best her colleagues have to offer through taking classes.
“I have people who I graduated highschool with who never saw 21 years old,” Kathy said. “I have colleagues who never saw 50. I am very grateful to be this age and doing the things I’m doing. I know that’s a privilege.”