When The Florida Association for Theatre Education celebrated our 30th anniversary during the 2009 conference, the keynote speaker was Dr. Stan DeHart, who was instrumental in the creation of FATE. He is often called FATE’s “spiritual father”. The following excerpts from his speech describe our origins:
“The idea for FATE actually began at a 1978 Thespian Conference when Connie Wahlburg, who was in charge of ‘entertainment’ and obviously at a loss for it, asked me to share my research on Arts in the Florida Public Schools, which compared Drama to the other fine arts.
“It was as entertaining as the funeral of your best friend and when I finished there was this long silence, which really made me nervous, no applause, no nothing – which usually means rotten fruit for an entertainer.
“Then suddenly I was surrounded by several angry and upset people, and I wanted to say ‘I’m just the messenger’. Then one woman asked me ‘What are we to do?’ Do? DO? I’m a college professor, we don’t DO. We research and we talk, but we don’t DO.
“So mostly out of fright I said, ‘Well, first you need a State Organization …’ and there it went. People were dashing about, forming committees and organizing everything. For the next year there were lots of phone calls and letters and activity and lo and behold, the first meeting was in Winter Park. The speaker, FSU Dean Richard Fallon, didn’t seem to mind that the conference was in a hotel room and that he was speaking to about seven people sitting on beds.
“Wow, baby. Look at you now”