Michael Under­hill – Class of 2010

Underhill_DSC8115-1

When I entered North­east­ern University’s The­atre Depart­ment as a Fresh­man in 2006, my con­fi­dence as an actor and a per­son of the­ater was, shall we say, slim to none. In act­ing classes, I was chal­lenged and pushed to places I never thought I could mentally, physically or emo­tion­ally go. I received so much indi­vid­ual atten­tion, encour­age­ment and analy­sis because the student-professor ratio was so small. In analy­sis class, I learned how to read a script, by crawl­ing over every word of text, for­wards and back­wards, in a quiet room with no dis­tur­bances. In Tech classes, I picked up the prac­ti­cal skills required to phys­i­cally put on a show, even though I attended as a per­for­mance concentration.

I became involved with the stu­dent group, Sil­ver Masque, very early on in my col­lege career. When I joined, they mainly put on one stu­dent pro­duc­tion per semes­ter and pro­moted the depart­ment shows. As a sopho­more and can­di­date for Cab­i­net membership, I asked the ques­tion ‘Why not more?’. Our uni­ver­sity preaches the value of prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence, so why don’t we take advan­tage of our depart­ment endorsed stu­dent group? I joined the group and was pres­i­dent of Sil­ver Masque for the next three years. I left my Senior Year ready to con­quer the world, rather than quiver in fear of grad­u­a­tion day.

I have not had more than a month off in between projects since grad­u­a­tion in 2010. I have become a com­pany mem­ber with Imag­i­nary Beasts, mem­ber of Happy Medium The­atre Company’s advi­sory board, and per­formed with Com­mon­wealth Shakespeare, Stoneham The­atre, The­atre on Fire, Whistler in the Dark, Shake­speareNow!, Heart and Dag­ger Pro­duc­tions as well as the film com­pany Green­view Entertainment.

Jenna Stelmok– Class of 2012

Jenna 2

Since grad­u­at­ing with a BA in The­atre from North­east­ern last year, I have had the oppor­tu­nity to move to Philadel­phia and par­tic­i­pate in the Arden The­atre Company’s Pro­fes­sional Appren­tice­ship Pro­gram. Arden appren­tices work for one sea­son, gain­ing a well-rounded, comprehensive knowl­edge of the non­profit regional the­atre world by work­ing in every aspect of oper­a­tions. On a daily basis, we rotate through depart­ments such as pro­duc­tion, finance, marketing, stage man­age­ment, edu­ca­tion, and mul­ti­ple oth­ers. While I am still in the process of fig­ur­ing out which area in the field is for me, the Arden has already instilled in me a greater level of con­fi­dence and a deeper work ethic, in addi­tion to an incred­i­ble sup­port net­work of tal­ented artists and admin­is­tra­tors, and new skills that I acquire on a daily basis. As appren­tices, we face high expec­ta­tions every day –I would not feel up for the chal­lenge with­out such a com­plete learn­ing expe­ri­ence from the the­atre depart­ment at Northeastern.

Anita Shriver – Class of 2012

Anita-(1)

My time at North­east­ern was split between main­stage per­for­mance and production, as well as student-initiated projects. With­out this kind of diver­si­fied expe­ri­ence, I would not have felt con­fi­dent in enter­ing the pro­fes­sional the­atre world. Since grad­u­at­ing with my BA in The­atre, I have worked as a prop­er­ties designer and scenic artist for Guerilla Opera, Opera del West, and Boston Lyric Opera, as well as a scenic artist for sev­eral inter­ac­tive designs at The Bronx Zoo, The Coney Island Aquar­ium, and ION Tele­vi­sion. I have also revis­ited North­east­ern as an assis­tant direc­tor on their main­stage pro­duc­tion of Company, directed by Jonathan Carr. My suc­cess out­side of North­east­ern was due in large part to the excel­lent group of pro­fes­sors and the vis­it­ing artists they brought in. Their push for stu­dents to be a part of as much the­atre, inside and out of the uni­ver­sity, as pos­si­ble, cre­ated a drive and excite­ment for hard work and creativity.

Juliana Beecher

BeecherHeadshot

I entered Northeastern as a theater major, but fully expected to find another discipline or group of people that interested me more. I never did. So, 4.5 years later, I graduated from Northeastern as a theatre major, with a concentration in production. In that time, theater changed for me from something that I could do in college to something I must do in life. How? Mostly because the opportunities I was provided showed me what a diverse, creative, collaborative, and intellectually challenging career theater can be. Throughout my time at Northeastern, I was lucky enough to assist lighting and scenic designers on professional productions in Boston and New York, as well as design two main stage shows for the NU Theater Department. Then, and now (as I figure out where in the world I want to be making theater), I tell people that the best thing about the Northeastern department is that it is small–you get to do so much, to dabble in almost any aspect of theater you please. I always felt that my time was valued, that just showing up to help in the scene shop, or the costume shop, or to hang lights, went a long way. The faculty were supportive of student initiatives, whether associated with the student group, Silver Masque, or outside of the department altogether. I worked with a group of my peers to create our own play from scratch, complete with script and sound design, which we performed in a small theater at Northeastern and another space outside the university. Upon graduation, I found myself already connected with theater communities in Boston and New York, thanks to the co-op program, theater department alumni, and working professors; and, thanks to my fellow students, eager to make more theater from the ground up.

Paula Ries

Paula-20Ries-20Original-3

My years at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity not only allowed me time to grow as a the­atre artist but more impor­tantly as an indi­vid­ual. The most impor­tant thing I learned from the The­atre Depart­ment was how to explore plays and get to the heart of why we do the­atre. This inten­sive research and explo­ration has helped me immensely in the real world. I have cho­sen to go to a con­ser­va­tory school for my grad­u­ate degree at Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity but would encour­age all under­grads to go to a lib­eral arts school such as North­east­ern. With the lib­eral arts require­ments it allowed me to grow intel­lec­tu­ally and expand my expe­ri­ences beyond that of the the­atre depart­ment. This edu­ca­tion inspired and pre­pared me for my time after graduation.

Heidi Nel­son – Class of 2006

heidi

My under­grad­u­ate expe­ri­ence at North­east­ern University’s The­atre Depart­ment has proven invalu­able. Dur­ing my first few years, inter­est­ing course­work com­ple­mented by hands-on pro­duc­tion expe­ri­ence fueled my pas­sion for cre­at­ing mean­ing­ful art that sparks dia­logue and inspires social aware­ness. As a senior, com­plet­ing an hon­ors project and the­sis gave me the con­fi­dence to chal­lenge myself, set high goals, and effec­tively nav­i­gate the world of pro­fes­sional the­atre. The suc­cess of my hon­ors project and men­tor­ship of an excep­tional pro­fes­sor, who became my advi­sor and good friend, set in motion a chain of events that led to my being accepted into an excel­lent MFA pro­gram and mak­ing cru­cial con­nec­tions with influ­en­tial col­leagues in my field. At this stage in my career, I have earned a grad­u­ate degree, com­pleted a fel­low­ship pro­gram with a major the­atre com­pany, pub­lished an arti­cle in a peer-reviewed jour­nal, and begun build­ing a the­atre career in New York City. None of these accom­plish­ments would have been pos­si­ble with­out the edu­ca­tional foun­da­tion and artis­tic inspi­ra­tion I acquired through the NU The­atre Department.

Saheem Ali – Class of 2003

My under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion at NU’s The­ater Depart­ment was instru­men­tal in launch­ing me into the pro­fes­sional world in New York. The com­bi­na­tion of the­o­ret­i­cal in-class learn­ing, prac­ti­cal rehearsal and per­for­mance, and expe­ri­en­tial co-op oppor­tu­ni­ties equipped me with the tools that I needed to enter the pro­fes­sional arena. When I began the pro­gram, I was unde­cided about which spe­cific role I would fit into. All I knew was that I wanted to be in the the­ater. The struc­ture of the pro­gram, where you are exposed to the dif­fer­ent aspects of theater-making, was invalu­able. The abil­ity to try the dif­fer­ent fields — act­ing, design, dra­maturgy — was essen­tial in help­ing me iden­tify that my pas­sion lay in direct­ing. It pre­pared me for the appli­ca­tion and even­tual admis­sion into the grad­u­ate direct­ing pro­gram at Colum­bia. I look back at my time in the The­ater Depart­ment as the essen­tial foun­da­tion to my career as a director.