Woodruff said she wanted to use the lecture talk about her early influences that led her to seek involvement in the dramatic arts, as well as what teachers can do to encourage students to follow their interests. She said she had been planning to come to town to visit family and friends when she heard from Janice Mason Art Museum board members Paul Fourshee and Portia Ezell. She said that they wanted her to write a letter of support for a Kentucky Arts Council grant, and then they stayed in touch. The museum had been planning a series of lectures to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and Fourshee and Ezell were looking out for any possible candidates.
Woodruff said her mother taught her to read before she entered first grade, and that this skill drove her interests from then on. She said that when she was in third grade, she read “Act One,” which was the autobiography of Moss Hart, an American playwright and director. Her teacher at the time was Ezell’s mother, Eldora Aldridge, who noticed the unusual choice of literature, she said.
“It wasn’t traditional reading for a child that age,” Woodruff said. “It did such a vivid job of showing what it was like to be backstage working on a Broadway show. When I got home after finishing it, I laid the book down and said to my parents, ‘This is what I’m doing with my life.’ I never changed my mind. That’s the power of books.”
Woodruff said that she always wanted to put on plays when she was in school. She would cast her shows with classmates, rehearse at recess, and her teacher would allow her to present the show in class. She said she always cast herself, but it wasn’t long before she realized she preferred directing to acting.
“I found out that it was more fun to boss people around,” she said.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.