Panitch Wins Burnum Award

Seth Panitch
Seth Panitch

From the May 2014 Desktop News | Following his passion for acting has led Seth Panitch, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, to interesting places, from the stages of New York to Cuba and beyond. The zeal he brings to teaching has done the same. In recognition of his work, he was presented in April the 2014 Burnum Award, one of the highest honors the University bestows on its faculty.

The award is presented annually to a professor who has demonstrated superior scholarly or artistic achievements and profound dedication to the art of teaching. The winner is selected by a faculty selection committee.

William Teague, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said Panitch is a “model faculty member in every way.”

“He sets high standards for himself in his professional work, whether it be directing, writing or performing,” Teague said. “He expects no less from his students. And they have learned that by buying into his process, they will succeed. Over the last eight years, his students have participated in three Off-Broadway productions; multiple performances in Cuba; Shakespeare festivals in Utah, Colorado and Texas; as well as countless projects here at the University. His students have an implicit trust in Seth. That trust has been earned, and it is that trust that makes him an excellent educator.”

For his part, Panitch sees the Burnum Award as something to live up to.

“It is more than a little humbling to receive an award stamped by so many of our most distinguished faculty,” Panitch said. “Rather than thrash about in a pool of self-doubt, I am resolved to look at this award as a call to action – to live up to the fine work of the superior educators that have preceded me.”

Panitch, who also serves as the director of the undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts acting programs at UA, has worked internationally in Havana, Cuba, with the Ministry of Culture, directing productions of “The Merchant of Venice,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Beyond Therapy” and his own play, “Alcestis Ascending.” He has also produced and acted Off-Broadway at the Harold Clurman Theatre, American Place Theater, Westbeth Theater Center, 59E59 Theatre and Urban Stages Theatre. Regionally, he has worked at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival and Idaho Repertory Theatre; and in Los Angeles at the Globe Playhouse, Odyssey Theatre, Complex Theatre and the Hillside Repertory Company.

His documentary, “A Night in the Theatre,” has been published by Insight Media and his plays, “Dammit, Shakespeare!,” “Hell: Paradise Found,”  “What’s Taking Moses So Long?” and “Alcestis Ascending,” have received critical success in both New York and Los Angeles productions.

At The University of Alabama, Panitch has directed “Into the Woods,” “Henry V,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Heiress,” “Saint Joan,” “Animal Crackers,” “Fifth of July,” “The Government Inspector,” “An Enemy of the People,” “Moby-Dick,” “Animal Crackers,” “Othello” and “Seven Guitars,” and he has performed as a guest artist in “Moon Over Buffalo,” “A Flea in Her Ear” and “Blithe Spirit.”

Panitch received his Master of Fine Arts in acting at the University of Washington’s Professional Actor’s Training Program and is a member of both the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the Dramatists Guild of America.