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.
Kelly Dowling, Arts Department Head and Director of Theatre
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 Arts Programming and English and Theatre Faculty
Matt Maurer joined the faculty in 2001. In addition to serving as Director of Arts Programming, Matt teaches English and theatre, directs plays, and serves as an adviser to the Irving & Marshall Society declaimers and the Karux yearbook. After earning a BS in education from the University of Dayton in 1993, where he won the Louis J. Faerber Award for Excellence in Secondary Education, Matt taught public school for eight years. He earned a master’s in English from the University of Dayton in 2000, completed the Lessac Institute’s Voice & Body Intensive in 2002, and earned a second master’s in directing from the Theatre Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts in 2010. Matt has adapted three nondramatic texts for the Mercersburg stage, and was the 2015–2016 recipient of the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious and Interdisciplinary Studies. He and his wife, Dr. Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, have five children: Emma ’18, Will ’20, Michael ‘22, Nathalie ‘23, and Mary.
Arts Department Head and Director of Theatre
Kelly Dowling joined the Mercersburg faculty in 2015. 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.
Events and Technical Support Director
Jessica Doubell joined the Mercersburg faculty in 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 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.