Students find remarkable opportunities to express their theatrical talents—on stage, as well as behind the scenes—at Mercersburg Academy.
Whether students are new to theatre or veterans to the stage, our academic classes allow them to develop their technique and learn new skills. Students can focus on character development, learn safe non-contact combat mimes in stage combat, use their voice more effectively in speech, and hone their skills as actors.
Stony Batter Players, our student theatre company, is the lab for students to apply what they learn in the classroom. Each year, the company presents four major theatrical productions in the Burgin Center’s two theatre spaces—the Simon Theatre and the Hale Studio Theatre—as part of the Academy’s Performance Group Activity.
Founded in 1894,
Founded in 1894, Stony Batter Players is the oldest continually active student group on campus and has a powerful artistic tradition. Notable alumni who continued working in theatre and film after Mercersburg include Academy Award winners Jimmy Stewart ’28 and Benicio Del Toro ’85. Countless other alums’ involvement in Stony Batter (including Anne Reeder Bertram ’00, Matteo Scrammell ’07, and Patrick Morgan ’08) has influenced their careers and pastimes beyond Mercersburg as actors, dancers, singers, and entertainers.
Meet the Theatre Faculty
Director of the Arts
Laurie Mufson’s career as a theatre educator, director, professional actress, and theatre company artistic director provide strong assets for Mercersburg’s academic and co-curricular offerings. Laurie joined the Mercersburg faculty in 1998 and has served as department chair and director of the Burgin Center for the Arts. She was appointed director of the arts in 2019. Prior to Mercersburg, Laurie created the academic theatre programs at the Bullis School and the Garrison Forest School, and was an adjunct professor at American University. Her professional acting career has included stage, television, and film work. She received the Best Director’s Award for the Source Theatre’s Washington Theatre Festival in 1996 and received a special citation from the Maryland House of Delegates for her work as artistic director for the Potomac Theatre Company. Laurie is a certified Lessac kinesensic voice and body trainer and a past president of the Lessac Training and Research Institute. She is an active member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association and Association for Theatre in Higher Education, where she presents regularly at yearly conferences. Laurie is also the inaugural holder of Mercersburg’s Palmer Chair in the Fine Arts. She and her husband, faculty emeritus Jim Applebaum, previously served as dormitory deans on campus. Laurie holds a bachelor of arts from Beloit College and a master of fine arts in theatre from George Washington University.
Assistant Director of the Burgin Center for the Arts
Kelly Dowling joined the Mercersburg faculty in 2015. She is the assistant director of the Burgin Center of the Arts and the lead designer and production manager for all performance events in the building. She previously served as managing director and a company member of the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory; taught drama and technical theatre at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, MD, and The Madeira School in Langley, VA; and worked as technical director of the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater in Washington, D.C. Kelly has served on the board of directors for the Charm City Fringe Fest, as an editor for The Shakespeare Standard website, and as a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts from Catawba College and also studied at the Marymount London School of Drama in England. Her husband, Walt, has worked as a lighting designer for numerous Stony Batter Players productions at Mercersburg. The Dowling family includes twin sons (Donovan ’21 and Dylan ’21), a daughter (Kaitlyn ’23), and a veritable zoo of rescue animals.
Technical Director of the Burgin Center for the Arts
Jessica Doubell has served as the technical director of the Burgin Center for the Arts since 2019. She grew up in nearby Chambersburg, PA, earned a bachelor’s of fine arts in theater with a concentration in stage management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a completed a master’s degree in humanities from Wilson College. Jessica worked for a production company in Los Angeles and then as a lead entertainment technician for Carnival Cruise Lines. She serves on the board for the Chambersburg Community Theater and has been a part of the organization, on and off, since birth. Jessica and her husband, Johan, have two children, Claudia and Jonah.