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Peter Sprague: Theater Personified

By: Samantha May

There are millions of plays in the world and thousands of different kinds of theater. Way too many for one person to keep track of. Luckily, if you major in theater and performance at Purchase College, Peter Sprague can tell you a little bit about some of these plays.

Sprague is a professor and a production manager and teaches classes like Intro to Theater and Performance, Production Practicum, and more theater-related courses. Sprague has taught at Purchase for 20 years and has never worked at another university. He is also not without experience. Sprague has acquired a BA in a theater program and an MFA from a professional theater training program at Southern Methodist University. Sprague said, “It was a great program and because I graduated from college, I said ‘Oh, I just got a degree in acting let me go and study it a little bit more.’”

Sprague’s favorite part of working at Purchase is the students and the classroom conversations. “I love the classroom. I love the conversations we get into and the subject matter. I don't know how interested students are, but I'm fascinated by it," Sprague said. "You know there's always some students who couldn't care less and there are some students who are like lapping it up and really interested and curious about it and that's what really feeds me is when I get a student who's like this made me wonder about that and I really want to go and search and stuff.”

Peter Sprague teaching Intro to Theater and Performance. (Photo by: Samantha May)

He states that he is not sure how interesting the subject matter is to students, and it can sometimes be hard to keep their attention. “I think part of that is just sort of personality-based. It's like I'm interested in it so I feel like you should be interested in it… You know, and if a student isn't interested, really it just sort of feeds my fire," said Sprague. "You know, that's a challenge. Okay, either you’re, you know, dissociating because you don't want to be here, in which case there's not much I can do about it. But hopefully, I can find something that's going to light a little fire in there or fan the flames of a little fire and turn it into something that helps you.”

Peter Sprague in his office next to some objects he has collected over the years. (Photo by: Samantha May.)

What Sprague may not be aware of is just how beloved he is by the student body. Frankie Joaquin Reyes, a theater and performance major said, “I went into my first week of college a little nervous that my professors would be very intimidating or give us information that I wouldn't be able to grasp so quickly. But with Peter's personality and bubbly jokes, he always makes it so fun and interactive to understand these methods and, you know, different philosophers that are crucial to understanding theater as an art.”

There is something else that sets him apart from the crowd; the crowd of theater professors that is. Sprague was a working actor before coming to Purchase as a professor. He has acted professionally in California and New York. His experience in the field has helped him tremendously in teaching students about acting and theater. Sprague said, “It gives me first-hand experience at knowing what the hunger is, what the ambition is, what the desire is, what the challenges still are. I can't stop you from learning those lessons, but I can help you understand the lesson plan.”

Sprague also, quite coincidentally he states, works with his wife at Purchase. Associate Professor of Graphic Design, Robin Lynch and Peter Sprague are High School sweethearts. Rowan Keane Lombardo said, “He’s such a wife guy, he’s always so enthusiastic about his wife.”

However, according to Sprague, their schedules are so different that they don’t even ride to work together. According to Lynch, they still find time in their schedule for some family time. She said, “Everything from having a child who grew up through the Children’s Center, we could walk across campus and have lunch with him. It was great for our family.” Although they don’t work together much now, they have worked together in the past. Years ago, they managed an event in the Humanities Theater of 24 hours of Shakespeare performances. They combined Sprague’s acting guidance skills with Lynch’s graphic design to make an event for the books.

Lynch said, “Everything the students enjoy about Peter as a teacher, I enjoy about him as a husband and a father. It’s not just what he brings to his teaching, but it’s the person I grew up with.”



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