Retired professor hits the stage

So, what does a retired professor do with his spare time? For John Palmer, who taught economics at Western for 40 years, the answer is take up acting.

“I was concerned about what I might do when I stopped teaching,” said Palmer. “I knew I’d miss the classroom.”



The former Edward G. Pleva Teaching Award winner had dabbled in acting in the past, and since leaving the classroom he has become increasingly active in the local theatre scene, having appeared in two previous plays this year plus playing a role in a historical documentary.

His biggest role ever is coming up at The Wolf Performance Hall, where he plays psychiatrist Martin Dysart in the well-known drama Equus.

“Equus is a deep, complex play about passion, worship, sex, and the meaning of life,” Palmer said. “And the role of Martin Dysart is a challenging exploration for any actor. One of the reasons I was cast in the role is that I can easily identify with having second thoughts about the meaning of one’s career in particular and life in general.”

Equus is about a 17-year-old boy (played by David Emanuel) who one night blinded six horses. Dysart’s job is to try to understand what happened to the boy and, in the process, Dysart begins to question many aspects of his own life.

“David and I have had a wonderful time working together,” said Palmer. “He’s a talented young man from whom I’ve learned a great deal.”

Palmer quipped the play does include mature content, but wants to put everyone at ease.

“Yes, the play Equus involves some nudity on stage near the end, but I want to assure everyone it won’t be me,” he laughed.


What: Equus

Where: Wolf Performance Hall, downtown London (part of the Central Library complex)

When: Sept. 6-8 and 11-15, 8 pm; Sept  8-9, 2 pm

Tickets: General admission $20, available through The Grand Theatre Ticket Office or at the door.