As each production nears technical rehearsals and opening nights, I'm always heartened by the turnout of students who come in to finish painting the set, focus instruments and put the final touches on that important hand prop. Muhlenberg is different from other schools where I've taught. The Muhlenberg Theatre Association, comprised of the students who are interested in theatre, makes it all happen in every production of every show. As the resident set designer, I design many of our settings, but I see myself first as a professional mentor working with and helping our students. This effort touches many of them in ways that I rarely hear about; they will sometimes come back months or years later and tell me of their newfound understanding of artistry in the theatre.
Muhlenberg is also different in that we don't offer a bachelor of fine arts degree; students come here for a liberal arts education and fit the work that is theatre into their already hectic lives. Our theatre students are prepared to be better, more culturally rich theatre artists after graduation than a more narrowly trained specialist.
My great joy in working with students interested in careers in design has been to first teach them in the classroom, then have them assist me on a show, and if they prove talented, capable and responsible, to have them design a production in our main stage season. This is a great testing ground for themĐin fact, one of the best experiences that a program like this can offerĐand helps them plan their careers. This work has been an asset to our productions and has regularly garnered honors and praise at our regional college theatre festivals.
Many of our alums have continued their "crew" work. To name a few: Tomo Takai '95 is studying theatre administration at Columbia University; Paul Adams '98 is a freelance sound designer in the New York City area; Matt Allar '98, who designs Christmas windows for Macy's and Saks, plans to pursue graduate studies in design; Josh Hinden '00 recently lit Keiko Yamamoto's '00 "Cave Theory" at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival 2000; and Ian Alderman '00 is part of the Milwaukee Repertory ensemble company and has received credit for his stage-worthy crew work in national press.