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WIU Theatre Professor Emeritus Jeannie Woods
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WIU Emeritus Theatre Professor Makes Donation to Students, PAS

February 23, 2021

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MACOMB, IL – With the retirement of Western Illinois University Professor Emeritus of Theatre Jeannie Woods, and the recent dissolution of The Starry Night Repertory Theatre she created, two important donations have been made to the WIU Department of Theatre and Dance and the Performing Arts Society (PAS).

Woods has donated her theatre equipment to the PAS, and has established The Starry Night Repertory Theatre Award in Directing, a $300 prize to be presented to a junior or senior actively directing in studio, or on mainstage. The first directing award was presented to senior theatre major Audrey Gniech, of Algonquin, IL, in late February.

The Starry Night Repertory Theatre was founded in 2009, established as a theatre for the Macomb community and the western Illinois region. As the theatre was in the process of examining its future in recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic made its continuation impossible.

Over its 11 years, the repertory theatre put together a variety of productions for the region, as well as around the world.

"During that time, with the generous support of the Department of Theatre and Dance at WIU, the company afforded opportunities for theatre practitioners from the University and the western Illinois area to come together and create theatre of substance," said Woods. "The company presented the world premiere of John Hallwas' play, "The Conflict: A Soldier's Memories of the Civil War." The company also traveled to China to perform the satire "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" (Abridged) for international festivals in Shanghai and Beijing."

WIU Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Tammy Killian said is grateful to the Starry Night Repertory Theatre for serving as a vehicle for students to hone their skills outside the department.

"I have always appreciated Dr. Jeannie Woods and her work, whether it was artistic or at WIU on committees dealing with curriculum or accreditation," said Killian. "But I'm especially appreciative of Dr. Woods and Starry Night Rep. for supporting our students in this way. I appreciate the value she places on helping our aspiring young artists to advance their education and career. This award will truly make a difference in our students' lives."

Woods began working at WIU in 2006 and retired in 2018 after serving as an actor, stage director and theatre historian and chair of WIU's Department of Theatre and Dance. She began working in higher education in 1987, teaching at City College of New York, Baruch College, Winthrop University before coming to WIU. She was also a Fulbright lecturer at the National Taiwan University of Arts from 1998-99 and taught on the SS Universe Explorer as part of the Semester at Sea program. She published "Maureen Stapleton: A Bio-Bibliography" in 1992, and "Theatre to Change Men's Souls: The Artistry of Adrian Hall" in 1993. She later co-translated an English script of a Chinese play with Taiwan playwright Chi Mei Wang, titled "The Bride and Her Double."

Donations are being accepted to add to the directing award Woods created and can be completed by texting WIUTAD to 41444 and choosing Theatre and Dance General Account, with description note "Starry Night Award."

For more information about WIU's Department of Theatre and Dance, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Relations