Originally I wanted to become an Episcopal priest, following the example of my youth minister, Rev. Al Perkins. He was both friend and father figure, and encouraged me to major in Theatre. So much of being a leader in the church is about making the gospel accessible through effective storytelling and communicating — and what better place to learn these skills than in the theatre?
Eventually I came to understand that I was not called to be a priest. Instead, I became intrigued by the technical side of theatre, loving the magical creation of worlds out of nothing and the camaraderie of the work.
After graduating and sending out résumés to theatres across the country, I landed a job at Seattle Children’s Theatre as their assistant technical director. Enthralled with the geography, people, and culture of the Northwest, I decided to make it my home. Following positions as technical director at professional theatres across the Puget Sound and the University of Washington, in 2006 I was invited to continue this role at SPU. This new position offered the opportunity to combine my professional expertise with my Christian faith and desire to be of service. I felt I had come full circle — I had found my home.
Throughout my early professional years I always felt there was an uneasy disconnect between my professional life and my faith. Opportunities to engage colleagues in discussions about faith or spirituality were almost nonexistent. At SPU, we are encouraged to engage students in conversation about their lives and faith, and my own faith grows through these conversations and experiences. Now when professional peers ask, “SPU — isn’t that a pretty conservative place for theatre?” I’m able to talk about professional practice in a Christian context, which opens up rather than closes down conversations.
There is a strong sense of community and togetherness between faculty and students in the Theatre Department. It’s evident to me that the true legacy of this department is the sense of family that extends beyond graduation. Collaboration is a key part of theatre, and collaboration is one of the department’s core principles. Students have an exceptional opportunity to become part of a working, producing theatre with the highest professional standards. The program is not about churning out “stars,” but about building a team that gives students the skills, expertise, and strength they need for life after graduation.
One of my greatest joys has been watching students grow through the program — from shy, insecure freshmen to confident young people who graduate to find work quickly in professional theatre. And it’s an added joy to hear from my colleagues in the professional field how impressed they are with our graduates’ integrity, work ethic, and collaborative skills — and how thrilled they are to have hired them.