Alumni Profiles

Benjamin Shaw

Benjamin Shaw
Class of 2007
Major in Theatre

Freelance Director

The day after graduation, I returned home to spend the summer as the assistant director for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's six-show season. First stop: the national Weldon Risingtour of Disney's High School Musical, where I formed important relationships that led to a big moment at the end of August: I moved to NYC to work as the executive assistant to the president of Disney Theatrical Productions. While the opportunity was instrumental in my professional development, I always planned to return to the creative side. After three years, I left Disney to build a freelance directing career.

Over the past year-and-a-half, I have directed and assisted on plays in New York, Florida, Seattle, and Minnesota. Whether I'm staging a scene in a musical or taking notes during a play, the one thing that never changes is the way I think about theatre. I Weldon Risingam a liberal arts junkie. How I approach and discuss the art is fundamentally influenced by the classes I took through Muhlenberg's Theatre & Dance Department.

With each project, I start with one basic question: Why is telling this particular story important right now? Sometimes the answer is immediately apparent, other times I have to dig deep for an answer. But that question is always my access point. The way I approach a script is by asking questions of the actors, the playwright, and of course myself. I create theatre because I believe it is a meaningful way of illuminating what's culturally, politically, and historically important. Muhlenberg introduced me to this larger way of thinking.

Benjamin in Weldon Rising at Muhlenberg, Fall 2006.
Photo by Joe Edelman.