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Unveiling of Judee Wales Watson Theater Feted with Pomp and Performances

  • Judee Wales Watson, in cream colored suite and corsage, stands next to plaque that reads, "Let your dreams transform your art through passion courage and truth. The Judee Wales Watson Theater 'the Judee' is lovingly dedicated to the memory of her parents Ruth and Joseph J. Truncer. 2022"
  • Students stand on staircase singing
  • Group of people surround Judee and Tom, clapping and cheering
  • Two young women sing into mics on darkened stage, purple spotlight behind them
  • Bill Gilligan speaks at podium on darkened stage with purple lights behind him

Emerson College students celebrated the ribbon cutting of the Judee Wales Watson Theater the only way they know possible – with performances.

The ceremony was held Tuesday, April 4, in the lower level of the Little Building, to honor Judee Wales Watson ’10 and her dedication to advancing Emerson’s Performing Arts programs.

“This is your new student performance arts space theater that you can bring everything to – your courage to, your passion to, your truth. Stand in your truth. Promise me you will stand in your truth whenever you are in this space,” Watson said.

To celebrate the dedication of the theater, previously known as the Student Performance Center (SPC) Theater, Emerson’s a cappella group Noteworthy performed “Easy to Love” by Couch, Lauren Dodds ’23 performed “Cabaret,” and Naja Brown ’23 and Morgan McMillin ’23 performed “The Colors of Paradise.”

Read more about Judee Wales Watson in Expression

Interim President Bill Gilligan applauded Watson’s devotion to the school.  

“You have made a difference in the lives of our students and your commitment to Emerson ensures that our students will continue to benefit from fantastic, life-changing opportunities for years to come,” said Gilligan.

Watson has had a long love story with Emerson. She came to Emerson in 1968, but with just a few credits remaining, left in 1971 to co-found the Boston Repertory Theatre on Cape Cod. She went on to act in plays, films, and TV, cut her own music album, Love Life, and, with her husband, Tom, created Two Bare Arms Productions.

Through her husband, Watson met former Emerson College president Jacqueline Liebergott. Together, they came up with a plan for Watson to complete her five remaining credits to graduate. Decades after she first started at Emerson, Watson graduated with an Acting degree in 2010.

“I had been trying to come back to Emerson for 40 years! Nobody understood the gravity of this. Something always got in the way. It’s easy to let things get in the way,” Watson said.

Watson is also supporting Performing Arts students by funding the ongoing 10-year Judee Truncer Wales Watson Actor Scholarship and the Judee Wales Watson Artist-in-Residence Program (JWW-AIR), which began in 2021 with Susan Batson ’64 guest teaching a one-day master class workshop for BFA students. In 2022, Broadway director Lonny Price was a guest teacher.

“We all need a creative home. While you’re here, make [this theater] your creative home and when you come back, visit it, and remember what it was you learned here,” Watson said.

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