The Final Act: An Interview with Professor Debbie Kondelik
For more than 40 years, Deborah Kondelik has trained and nurtured theater students in South Florida. Prior to becoming a professor of theatre at Broward College in 1993, Kondelik taught drama and directed plays at a private school in Miami, and owned and operated Theatrical Enterprises, an acting school venture with four locations in Miami. Before her call to teaching, Professor Kondelik was a professional actor, working on stage and in television. During her acting career, she worked alongside Cliff Robertson, Ernest Borgnine, Karen Black, and Terence Hill.
Although Kondelik now is preparing to retire, she isn’t one to sit still: Her “To Do” list already is full. She recently took time to discuss her last production at Broward College, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” and how she’s preparing for retirement.
Q: It’s your last production at Broward College. What are your thoughts?
A: I believe there are many endings and beginnings in our lives. With each there are mixed feelings. My students have given so very much to me. In my work they have been the endless fuel. I will miss them terribly. I stay in touch with the many alumni and will continue to do so. There will be an emptiness that nothing will truly fill.
Q: You’ve worked with some great professionals at Broward College. Does anyone especially stand out in your mind?
A: My many colleagues in the Department of Visual & Performing Arts have provided invaluable support throughout my years at the college. In particular, my theatre colleagues Mike Williams, Mariah Reed, Larry Bauman and Katie Valli have been and will continue to be great theatre artists and wonderfully supportive collaborators. Of course my dear colleague, Richard Graham Hinners – rest in peace, Richard — was my first partner in crime here at the college.
Q: You’ve had some pretty high spots in your career here. What are some of the highest?
A: I was fortunate to be awarded three endowed teaching chairs; a professor of the year award on Central Campus; and several Excellence in Directing awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. These were wonderful, and much appreciated. However, if I were to speak about the high points of my career at Broward College, it wouldn’t be an award or even a particular production that I directed. The high points of my career have been the growth and successes of my many student actors. To inspire them to be their best and then witness the pride, skill, and confidence they exude is by far the highest point of my career at BC.
Q: What was the theatrical production you did here that is most memorable?
A: It must be and always has been…the current production.
Q: What will you do when you retire?
A: I have already been cast in a professional production at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach. However, I have dreams of creating my own company and do devised theatre. Devised theatre is a form of theatre that is highly collaborative, creative, and original.
Q: On closing night, when the curtain goes down for the last time, what will you do next?
A: After the final curtain of every production I have ever directed, I mourn. Each production is a life unto itself. During auditions it gestates; during rehearsals it grows up; and during performances, it lives. And like all lives, it too dies and is missed. So I suppose I am used to this process, although the mourning is never easy and always painful. I will mourn when I leave Broward College; however, there is new life waiting around the bend.