Helen Cermak joined Concordia in 1973 as the office manager for the communication studies and theatre art department. She has since held many titles including instructor, business manager and guest director of the theatre, director of Knutson Center and acting assistant dean of students. She retires as an assistant professor of CSTA and faculty member of the women’s studies program.
Cermak is noted for her work as a director and acting coach, although her work as teacher, costume designer, publicist and specialist in readers theatre is known throughout the area. She has been involved in hundreds of productions and each April she and her students put on the One Act Play Festival at Concordia. Because of her demand as a narrator she added radio and television commercials to her credit and freelanced as a vocal consultant and coach for area television anchor women.
She was named the Fargo-Moorhead YWCA Woman of the Year in Arts in 1991.
“One of the great things about theatre art is that it is cyclical,” Cermak once said. “You have a beginning, and the process matures, grows and blossoms, coming to a full expansion. Then it closes and you move on to something else.”
For her, the theatre has always been a family affair working with her husband, the director of the theatre, and instilling a love for the theatre in her children.
Dr. Donald Rice, CSTA chair and professor, praises Cermak for her contribution to Concordia.
“As a force for women’s studies on campus, she was an innovator as a teacher and director, he says. “As a teacher, she developed coursework in women’s theatre, dramaturgy, and acting. As a director, she chose challenging scripts such as ‘Angels in America,’ ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle,’ ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ and many others. Her 36-year career at Concordia touched the lives of a great many students and colleagues, who are indebted to her for her dedication to them and her art.”