If you’ve ever been to a play or a musical in Utah, then you owe a debt to Maude May Babcock, nicknamed the “First Lady of Utah Theater.” Miss B, as her students called her, was well-trained in drama and elocution – or the art of speaking. She came to Utah and had a major influence on drama in the state. Because of Miss B, the University of Utah may have been the first university to stage a play in the country!
Miss B makes a difference.
Maude May Babcock, or “Miss B” as her students called her, understood the importance of both athletics and arts for her students. Following her own schooling and training, which took place in many different cities on two continents, she came to the University of Utah. There she founded two departments: the Department of Speech and the Department of Physical Education.
She taught in both departments, becoming the first woman on faculty of the University of Utah. But she wasn’t done! In 1927, she became chair of the Department of Speech.
A drama queen
Through it all, she encouraged the university to support and fund drama programs and productions, and the U claims to be the first school in the nation to sponsor a staged play and the first school to fund a professional theater on its campus.
Later, the university honored her influence on drama in the state by naming the Babcock Theatre after her. The theatre is on the lower level of the Pioneer Memorial Theater building, and it presents plays and musicals from September through April.
Maude was also the first woman to serve as Chaplin for the Utah State Senate. In fact, she was the first woman to hold that position in any state senate in the country.
Miss B acted effectively.
Drama in Utah, or even in the West, wouldn’t be the same without the influence and passion of Maude May Babcock. Honor her memory and go see a play at one of the theatres near you!