Marquette honors Phylis Ravel

Phylis Ravel, an artistic associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, passed away Nov. 6 at age 69.

Ravel, or “PR” as her students and colleagues called her, came to Marquette in 1997 to teach theatre and direct plays for the theatre department.

Over the course of her 15-year career at Marquette, Ravel brought social justice issues to the forefront of the theatre department, helping to select shows such as “Dead Man Walking” and “The Women of Lockerbie.” She directed her own written work in 2009, “Censored on the Final Approach,” which focused on female fighter pilots in World War II and their struggle to be accepted and respected.

Stephen Hudson-Mairet, assistant professor and theatre arts chair, said Ravel pushed for social justice because she was at a school like Marquette, whose motto is “Be the Difference.”

“The plays that (Ravel) did were not well-known,” Hudson-Mairet said. “But they allowed her to focus on the social justice issues. She used theatre to explore social justice issues.”

Hudson-Mairet said Ravel instilled leadership and passion in the whole theatre department.

“She provided leadership and inspired the students and teachers,” Hudson-Mairet said. “The program needed a jumpstart, and her leadership reinvigorated the program.”

Hudson-Mairet said Ravel changed the theatre department for the better.

“(Ravel) allowed the department to pursue social justice programs and maintain professional theatre training based in liberal arts,” Hudson-Mairet said.

Dylan Elhai, a sophomore in the College of Communication, took Ravel’s Acting I class and also worked with Ravel in the production of “Defying Gravity” in February. She said Ravel provided a unique experience within the classroom environment.

“She was a really creative person,” Elhai said. “She chose things that are very evocative emotionally, and seeing those things come to life on stage was fascinating.”

The theatre department will honor Ravel through an endowment within the department in her name. A memorial service will take place in January.

Hudson-Mairet said he believes Ravel will leave a lasting impression on not only the theatre department, but the students, too.

“(Ravel) could be tough on her students, but she would do so with underlying love and support for all of them,” Hudson-Mairet said. “People all across campus were deeply touched by her actions.”