From The Herald-Times
Posted: By Joel Pierson H-T Theater columnist

In my ongoing series of profiles of local theatrical personalities, I spoke recently with Paul Daily, Ivy Tech’s artistic director for the John Waldron Arts Center.

I asked him what his job entails, and he told me, “My duties include listening and responding to community needs for the arts, directing the Ivy Tech student productions, building community partnerships, providing a vision for the Waldron and Center for Lifelong Learning, and the continual task of keeping all the activities in a multi-use building playing well together.”

Daily confirmed that acquiring the Waldron has been a great asset for the college. “It launched a new era in the arts for Ivy Tech. We began offering the associate of fine arts shortly after and developed articulation agreements with IU for dance and theater. Before that, we didn’t offer any theater or dance courses and had a limited offering of fine arts courses.”

They expanded their non-credit offerings to the community as well, including youth arts programming and summer camps.

“Everything we have with theater,” Paul says, “has happened because of the acquisition. In addition to our theater courses, Ivy Tech Student Productions has a three-show season. We’ve developed a strong partnership with Bloomington Playwrights Project, where we teach our theater courses. We also work with the BPP to run their theater camps under the Ivy Arts for Kids umbrella. And it has deepened our relationship with our most frequent renter, Cardinal Stage, as well as other community groups that rent the spaces in the Ivy Tech Waldron.”

The student productions are open to any Ivy Tech or Indiana University student. As Daily explains, “Part of college is discovering who you are, and this is such an outlet. The relationship we have with IU is very strong, and our students who discover theater here find they have connections at IU when they transfer because of our productions, where they’ve worked together already.”

Daily believes the arts always involve conversation between artists and community. Ivy Tech Community College can now present educational theater in a black-box setting, thus encouraging other theater companies in Bloomington into clearly defining who they are or opening up chances for them to explore. “The theater we’re doing,” he adds, “is thought-provoking and always asks the question, why does this story need to be told theatrically, rather than in another medium? Not to mention we’re just doing flat-out good work.”

This spring, they’ll be presenting Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” in an unusual way — the audience will move from room to room in the Waldron, using the art gallery, a classroom and the Rose Firebay.

As for the future, Daily says, “I’d love to see a few more courses added to our catalogue for theater, such as script analysis, and I’d like to get our season up to four shows. That dream may have to wait a while, though, because with our renters, we simply don’t have room to add any more productions!”

In closing, he says, “Ivy Tech Student Productions tell strong stories, told simply, that engage the audience’s collective imagination. I am forever seeking how to make an audience a part of the experience. When you have a beautiful, elaborate set before you, your imagination turns off — the designers have done all the work for you. But with a little fog, the right light, and an actor’s movement, you can imagine any number of worlds for yourself. That is far more exciting to me. Or when an actor turns to the audience member and makes a comment, suddenly the audience member is part of the story. I don’t expect the audience member to respond, and work to avoid making them feel anxious or uncomfortable in the moment, but being engaged directly, done correctly, can be thrilling.”

Contact Joel by sending an email to with “Pierson” in the subject line.

Paul Daily 2Ryan Dorgan | Herald-Times file photoDirector Paul Daily watches his actors during a rehearsal at the Waldron Arts Center in 2012. “Waiting For Lefty,” a play by Clifford Odets and directed by Paul Daily, will run April 13-21 at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.Paul DailyRyan Dorgan | Herald-Times file photoPaul Daily offers advice to his cast in 2012 at the Waldron Arts Center. Daily, a former actor, took his directing position at Ivy Tech Community College after moving from New York via Kokomo. “Acting is all me-me-me,” said Daily. “ Directing is so different. It’s about finding the strengths in everyone else and helping those surface.”

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.