Dr. Leland Starnes served as Director of the Salisbury State Theatre from 1972 to 1980.
Prior to joining the faculty at Salisbury State College (now Salisbury University), Starnes was director of the Theatre and Associate Professor of Speech and Theatre Arts at the University of Pittsburgh. Before going to Pittsburgh, he directed the Yale University undergraduate dramatic organization, the Yale Dramatic Association. He also directed a summer school for apprentices at the summer theatre in Williamstown, Massachusetts where he directed and acted professionally. Earlier in his career he wrote and directed for WUNC-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina, and for WGBU in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he also served as acting program manager for the summer.
Dr. Starnes accepted a position at Salisbury State College delighted by the opportunity to work more closely with students in an intimate atmosphere. On deciding to leave Yale, Starnes explained, "I had considered the likelihood that if I left Yale, I should go to a small college. I wanted to be more creatively involved with students." Upon arriving at Salisbury, Dr. Starnes said, "I loved Salisbury the first time I saw it. There is a happy ambiance."
During his tenure at Salisbury University, Dr. Starnes brought theatre to new heights, earning accolades from the critics and praise from the community. Coupled with the efforts of Robert Cloyd, his Scene Designer, Leland Starnes created theatrical experiences often compared to Broadway productions. As one theatre critic stated after viewing Neil Simon’s Star Spangled Girl, "I have seen professionals do the Star Spangled Girl, and it was amusing. At Salisbury State, I came out in shock. The evening once again belongs to director Leland Starnes…"
After eight magical seasons Leland Starnes passed away, leaving a legacy of creative excellence.
The Leland Starnes Papers consists mainly of production files created during his tenure as Director of the Salisbury State Theatre at Salisbury State College. The files include prompt scripts, notes, photographs, slides, audio reels, cast lists, rehearsal schedules, stage designs, programs, sound plots, posters, sound recordings, and news clippings. Also included in the collection are personal mementoes, organizational literature and some correspondence.
Some of his noteworthy productions include: