Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
As a first year MFA candidate, I have spent part of the year learning the ins and outs of this department. After volunteering for the 75th Gala, it is clear to me just how lucky I am to be a part of the Hartke CUA family.
I was surprised and excited when I was asked to be a student volunteer coordinator. Uncertain of the job, but eager to do my part, I said I’d love to do it. Little did I know how much work, or how eye-opening, the job would be (and, of course, worth every minute). In the days leading up to the festivities, my role was fairly simple – contact my fellow students, letting them know about the volunteer opportunities the weekend would bring. When the day came for everyone to sign up for a job, it was amazing to see the love and dedication my classmates have for the department. Many people signed up for more than one role, and promised to be around to fill in as needed. Everyone was eager and excited for the weekend to be a fun and successful celebration of 75 years.
In the weeks before the Gala I was graced with another opportunity, to be in a scene that would be a part of the Saturday night performance. I, of course, was thrilled to have the chance to work on John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God with my fellow MFA, Tasha Gallop, under the direction of Eleanor Holdridge. Through rehearsal I got to learn the Hartke stage, a space I had not played in yet, as well as work with Eleanor.
Finally, the weekend came. I kicked off my volunteer duties with a panel of new alumni (recent grads of both the undergraduate and graduate programs). This was my first opportunity to meet alumni of the program, and I found they had as much love and fire for the department as my classmates.The panelists shared valuable wisdom about their recent entry into the world of professional theatre.
Next up for me was set-up for the tent pre-show reception for the special performance of Shakespeare in Hollywood. I had the chance to meet more alumni at the champagne reception, where everyone was happy to share fond memories of their time at Catholic U.
Saturday brought a morning tech rehearsal, with everyone guzzling caffeine and looking forward to the long, eventful day ahead. From tech, some of us hurried over to assist with the second panel, this time of previous playwrights sharing their personal craft and thoughts on the profession. Again, it was wonderful to hear the thoughts and opinions of graduates. I remember thinking how knowledgeable everyone was, and who glad I was to be in this program.
After a quick dinner break I was back on campus for pre-show set up (mostly admiring the people who were in costume to mingle before the gala performance) before signing in for my call. Performing the scene from Agnes of God with Tasha was very special, as it was my first time performing before an audience at Catholic University. It was very exciting, and as always, I can only hope I did the words justice.
We all got the chance to let loose after the performance with a reception that included Club Callan, plenty of food, and swag galore. I was assigned to oversee Club Callan (I know, I got the best assignment!) and it was the perfect end to the weekend, dancing and having fun with alum and current students alike.
If there was any doubt in my mind about my choice of Catholic, it vanished after the Gala weekend. Seeing so much of the alumni family come home to celebrate the department was heartwarming, and hearing the wisdom they were eager to share brought me further into the fold. While I certainly have no intention of rushing through my remaining two years, I have a wonderful group that I look forward to joining upon my graduation.
Teresa McClernon is going into her second year as an MFA Acting student at CUAdrama.