SLU professor Anne-Liese Fox reflects on a life of theater


Austin O'Brien

Dr. Fox holding a Kyogen-styled mask called “The Mosquito.” Kyogen plays are from 1300s japan and are the oldest type of drama from that region.

Dr. Anne-Liese Fox, an instructor of acting and directing at Southeastern, has left a very substantial backstory for herself in the theatrical arts. She has a doctorate in Theater History, Dramatic Literature and Criticism with a minor in performance studies.

Her interest in the theatrical arts started when she was in school; she would frequent plays on Broadway and other smaller theaters. Examples of these plays included the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” and her childhood favorite being “Annie.”

Through this early love of plays, Fox began to move into the theatrical world and took any opportunity to advance her career. One of her biggest steps in that direction was her time spent in France as a part of an experimental wing her college, New York University, was pursuing. 

“I was fluent in French at 19 and didn’t think it would be hard. Everyone studied masque and vocal techniques at the school, and they only spoke French, so I had to adapt quickly,” Fox said.

During that time, Fox participated in a type of curriculum that seemed bizarre but helped her learn much more in her career: mime school. For one year she attended a class taught by a famous French stage actor named Jacques Lecoq, in which she learned theatrical techniques to push her career further. Fox learned much about theater, including physical techniques, from Lecoq.

This time in France allowed Fox to have an open opportunity to experience career opportunities, such as performing for French television and teaching English as a second language in France. She could not stay, however, as she was not a legal resident of France. She decided to move to San Francisco instead, and from there she produced several different works that led her to Louisiana.

Fox attended several different Louisiana colleges to advance her career, including getting her master’s at UNO and her Ph.D. at LSU. She was also a professor at Loyola University and Tulane University.

Austin O’Brien

One of Fox’s greatest accomplishments in the theatrical arts is her co-writer credit on the play “Swimming Upstream,” a play about women surviving the drastic effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The play, in which Fox also performed, was directed by Tony Award nominee Kenny Leon, and it also included Primetime Emmy award winner Kerry Washington as an actress.

Many of the projects Fox has been involved with have had a theme of real-life events such as  Hurricane Katrina or the effects of racism. International Playback Theatre Network, the company she worked for to produce some of her works, focuses on “enabling all of us to connect as a global community, foster networking and deepen collective learning and wisdom,” as stated on the website. Plays like “Dark Skin Pavement” and “Undoing Racism” are works she participated in that share the effects of racism in minority communities, showing her dedication to helping others be seen in the theatrical world. 

“As a theater historian and scholar, I am passionate about guiding students through analysis of the socio-economic, political, and philosophical contexts of theatrical artifacts,” Fox said.

Fox’s most recent work at Southeastern, “Big Love,” required much improvisation due to Hurricane Ida damaging the Vonnie Borden Theatre. The play was moved to the parking garage, and she, along with the many students helping with production, had to make do with what they had. 

However, they persevered, as junior Delana Touchet recalled from her time working with Fox. 

“Big Love was quite an experience. We obviously were not able to use the Vonnie Borden Theatre, so we had to use the parking garage. Despite everybody’s skepticism, Dr. Fox always remained confident, which in turn motivated and encouraged the cast. I’ve never done an outdoor show before, and especially never in the cold, but despite the weather conditions and the outside distractions, watching Dr. Fox get excited for the show made it all worth it.”

For students who wish to get involved in the theatrical world, Fox advised, “Create your own opportunities.”

Currently, along with teaching courses in SLU’s theater department, Fox is scheduled to direct another play this semester titled “Mrs. Whitman’s Words For Women.” The play will take place at Reimer’s Memorial Auditorium from April 7-9.