Stage Success

Young female seated on the couch

Sue Mach ’86 dreamed of becoming a physical therapist when she left her home in Chewlah, Wash. — population 2,000 — in 1982 to attend Pacific University.

She and her plans took a detour, though, when she took English classes from now-retired professor Mike Steele and appeared in a three-character play her freshman year.

“They were kind of surreal experiences. Both opened me up,” said Mach, who ultimately became an English major. “I think that was the turning point.

“I loved literature and I loved words. I had some really inspiring teachers at Pacific.”

Mach has blossomed into an award-winning playwright. One of her plays, The Lost Boy, won an Oregon Book Award in 2012, and another one, A Noble Failure, has been nominated for the same award this year. 

Both plays created a stir in the Portland media this winter when they premiered on the same night — The Lost Boy at Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre and A Noble Failure at the city’s Third Rail Repertory Theatre.

After graduating from Pacific, Mach took the route of many would-be artists: waiting tables. When she was 30, she got a scholarship to attend Boston University, where she earned a master’s in playwriting.

While writing is her passion, she also finds joy in her work as a teacher. For the past 15 years, she has taught a variety of courses, including English composition, drama literature and screen writing, at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City.

This story first appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit

Wednesday, March 13, 2013