16th June 2021
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Pat Santanello: Director and Educator – Theatre People

Pat Santanello
By Mitch Stark

Hello again, TheatrePeople! It’s another week and I’m eager to introduce you to an incredible person in the world of drama education, Pat Santanello.

Pat has been directing high school theatre in Ohio for over 26 years and has been a generous coach, award winner and leader in the Educational Theatre Association. I hope you enjoy her theatrical musings as much as I did. Have a great weekend, peeps!

Pat Santanello, theatre educator and director in Dublin, Ohio.

What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)

In the Heights inspires me. I come from an immigrant family and the story really resonates with me. There is something about the joyful nature of the show that speaks to me.

What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?

I am happiest any time I watch my students perform. I love standing in the back of the theatre and watching the magic happen and the more difficult it was for us to get to performance weekend, the better I enjoy the end result. It fills me with awe and wonder and pride. “Those are my kids up there!”

What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)

One of my favorite stories occurred during a performance of Neil Simon’s Rumors. A character is supposed to go off stage and get a bag of pretzels and there are a bunch of jokes that follow concerning the character’s inability to open the bag. The actor went off stage and took an extra long time. When he returned he said with a panicked look on his face, “Um, I couldn’t find any pretzels!” and I thought, well, there go all of those great jokes! The actors managed to improvise and work around it, though.

Why do you love theatre?

I saw my first Broadway show when I was five years old and I was hooked! I love the shared experience of seeing a show and losing myself in a story. I love the collaborative nature of the experience of creating theatre and how interdependent all of the elements are. Theatre is transformative as an audience member or as a participant. I especially love that every single student can find their niche in theatre.

Theatre is for..


…about and sharing the essence of the human condition. Theatre is a mirror of society and it often captures a time period like nothing else can.

Pat Santanello

More about Pat

Pat Santanello is in her 26th year as Director of Theatre at Dublin Scioto High School in Dublin, Ohio and is the Troupe Director of Thespian Troupe #5440. She is in her 29th year as a member of the Ohio Educational Theatre Association’s Board of Directors, where she serves as Co-Chapter Director. She received her Ed.D. with a specialty in accessible theatre from the University of Findlay and graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A., B.S. Ed. And M.A. in Theatre Education. Pat received the Ashland Teacher Achievement Award in 1995, the Iota Lambda Sigma Distinguished Service award in 2003, and the Dublin City Schools Golden Shamrock Award in 2012. She is an Ohio Master Teacher and a 2003 Fulbright Memorial Scholar. She has served in a number of roles with the Educational Theatre Association, including service on the EdTA Governing Board, as a Leadership Coach, and as the co-chair of the Educational Theatre Foundation’s Advisory Committee. In October of 2010, she was inducted into the Educational Theatre Association’s National Hall of Fame. She is a proud founding board member of Short North Stage. She lives with her husband, Theo, and their two retired racing greyhounds in Dublin, Ohio.

Published in collaboration with TheatreAve
Also by Mitch Stark:

Barb Hilt: Director, Designer and Teacher – Theatre People

Ray Palasz: High School Drama Teacher – Theatre People

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