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Daigneault Named Univ. Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ Professor in Theatre Arts

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Theatre educator, stage director and arts leader Paul Daigneault-a 1987 graduate of Boston College-has been named the University's Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ Professor in Theatre Arts for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Daigneault is the founder and producing artistic director of SpeakEasy Stage Company in Boston, a mid-sized resident regional theater currently celebrating its twentieth season. On April 4, Daigneault will be honored, with Broadway playwright Terrence McNally, at the SpeakEasy's anniversary gala.

Under his leadership, SpeakEasy is one of the most successful and respected professional theaters in New England, with a strong reputation for producing regional premieres of contemporary musicals and plays. He has directed more than half of SpeakEasy's roughly 100 productions over the past 20 years, including Annie Baker's Body Awareness (as part of the Shirley, VT Play Festival) and the musical Nine in the current 2010-2011 season.

Daigneault is the first BC alumnus to hold the prestigious Monan Professorship in Theatre Arts. During his year-long residency, he will direct a production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's critically acclaimed musical Into the Woods, as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of BC's Robsham Theater Arts Center. He will also teach an advanced class in Musical Theater Performance, serve as a mentor to student directors, and as a guest lecturer in other courses.

"I look forward to returning to BC to work with students over the course of an entire school year," Daigneault said. "I'm curious to see how things have changed since I was a student a generation ago."

Daigneault has remained involved with his alma mater. For the Theatre Department, he directed Craig Lucas's Blue Window in 2002 and the musical Urinetown in 2008. In 2007, in recognition of his professional success with SpeakEasy, he received the Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement from BC's Arts Council, and was a special guest during the University's annual Arts Festival, during which the award was presented.

"Paul will be a great inspiration to our students," said Scott T. Cummings, chair of BC's Theatre Department. "Anybody can start a theatre company. It takes a rare combination of talents to keep it alive, growing, and prospering to the point where twenty years on it is a major regional arts organization. That is a tremendous achievement."

After graduating from BC, Daigneault pursued a theatre career in New York City before returning to Boston in 1992 to start SpeakEasy with help from some BC friends. In its early days, the fledgling operation worked out of South Boston's St. Augustine's School, where Daigneault taught sixth and seventh grade.

In 2007, SpeakEasy was named the Pavilion Resident Theater for the Boston Center for the Arts, where it performs in the Nancy and Ed Roberts Studio Theater for more than half the year. In 2008, the company received StageSource's Theater Hero Award, given annually to "an exceptional member of the Greater Boston theatre community who has demonstrated a history of service and commitment to the community through leadership, support, inspiration, innovation and promotion of the art of theatre throughout the region." SpeakEasy employs 120 actors, designers, and production staff annually, making it a mainstay for many of Boston's most talented theater professionals. SpeakEasy productions have won numerous awards, including five Elliot Norton Awards in 2010.

Named for University Chancellor and former Boston College President J. Donald Monan, SJ, the professorship enables the Theatre Department to bring nationally and internationally recognized professional theater artists to work and teach undergraduate students at the University. In addition to honoring Fr. Monan's dedicated service to BC, the professorship was established in memory of late Trustee E. Paul Robsham, M.Ed.'83--benefactor of the campus theater arts facility named for his son--and in celebration of the longstanding relationship between the Robsham family and the BC Theatre Department.

Daigneault will be the fifth Monan visiting artist, following Karen MacDonald (2010-11), director Carmel O'Reilly (spring 2010), actor Remo Airaldi (fall 2009), and Broadway music director Mary- Mitchell Campbell (2008-09).

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