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At 49, ASU theater graduate will have her first play published

December 16, 2010

“It hasn’t been easy being the oldest person in the School of Theatre,” says Karen Michelle “Shelly” Sarver.

She’s 49 years old and is graduating from ASU this December with her B.A. in Theatre and Film. “We have to perform in most of our classes, and it can be awkward playing someone half my age!  But it’s been worth it to earn a degree in something I’ve been interested in since I was a kid,” she explains.

Sarver is the first person in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree. She’s also a mother to two daughters. Kadence, 19, is an art major at ASU, and Delaney is 10. “I’m a more serious student than either of my daughters,” she laughs. “I hope I inspire them.”

“My dream is to write plays and have them professionally produced,” Sarver explains. One of her short plays, “Waiting in Line to See the Virgin Mary,” will be published in January 2011 by Heuer Publishing. The witty 10-minute play, written in Guillermo Reyes’ playwriting class, tells the story of two Latina women who are standing in a long line to see the Virgin Mary’s image in a tortilla.

“My senior capstone project was to form an organization for female playwrights called Arizona Women Dramatists,” she says. “Our mission is to encourage, develop and advance the original dramatic works of Arizona’s women playwrights. We will meet regularly to create and critique our work and, hopefully, get some of it produced.”

Sarver isn’t entirely sure what the future holds for her, but it will definitely involve theater.  “I’d like to start a theater group and perform site-specific theater, but I’m also considering applying to ASU’s graduate program in dramatic writing.”

Overall, Sarver defines ASU as a great experience. “I’ve learned to think critically and to persevere when I wanted to quit,” she explains. “I wanted to quit plenty of times—but my biggest lesson was learning to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’”

Her only complaint about ASU?  Professors saying to students, “You guys are too young to remember this.”

Contributed by Jeanne Schaser, ASU Media Relations