January 29, 2009
Since 1932, the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College has been a beautiful tribute to actress Annie Russell. As the heart of the Department of Theatre and Dance, this historic building has kept the legend and legacy of Annie Russell in the limelight. On Thursday, Jan. 29 Rollins honored Russell once again as a stone was placed along the Walk of Fame to recognize her many achievements and contributions to theater.
The stone, which came from Russell’s home in Winter Park, is the 531st stone to be placed in Rollins’ Walk of Fame. Stones from the birthplaces of Maya Angelou, Fred Rogers and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others also line the Walk of Fame on the edge of Mills Lawn.
Rollins faculty, staff and students along with members of the community attended the 20-minute stone-laying ceremony. Rollins President Lewis Duncan welcomed members of Annie Russell’s family and introduced student Joseph Bromfield (Class of 2009), who read a personal letter he wrote to Annie.
“Annie, I need to thank you,” Bromfield said. “Without you and the legacy you left behind, I would not be the artist or even the person that I am today. And I am only one voice among many. So for the students of Rollins College both past and present, I’d like to thank you Annie, for everything.”
As part of a two-year collaboration during Rollins' Student-Faculty Summer Scholarship Program, Bromfield and Director of Theatre Arts & Dance Jennifer Cavenaugh conducted research on letters written by Russell and wrote a play about her life titled "Stage Fright."
Chelsea Swearingen (Class of 2012), who portrays Russell in “Stage Fright," which is currently in production at the Fred Stone Theatre, read one of Russell’s letters to the crowd.
In the letter, Russell said, “I am always a student; I shall never stop thinking, studying, learning as long as I live. There is so much to do, so much to express, such worlds of artistice beauty to explore.”
An abridged version of this quote is inscribed on the stone that was placed into the ground by President Duncan and Annie’s relatives. Learn more about Annie Russell’s legacy and namesake theatre and Rollins’ Walk of Fame.