Spotlights ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: KATE NEUBERT LECHNER Kate Neubert Lechner is a Gannon graduate who majored in Theatre/Communication Arts. She is currently the YouTheatre/Education Director at the Erie Playhouse. Kate's training at Gannon helped get her to work with Tony Bennett in NYC. Kate worked for RPM Productions, doing tour and event planning/coordination. "What you need is a great program that is going to develop you as an artist, that is going to help you thrive." ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: JULIE LOKAHI Julie Lokahi is a 2002 Gannon graduate who majored in Theatre. She is currently a Territory Manager for PPG Industries. The skills she learned at Gannon, through studying Theatre, helped her gain internship and career opportunities, including a position with Cirque du Soleil after graduation. Julie took some time to stop back and share with us a little bit about her journey and how Gannon's Theatre Program helped get her where she is today. ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: MATTHEW CRAYS Matthew Crays is a 2014 Gannon graduate who earned a double major in Theatre and Psychology. Since graduation, Matthew has become the Theatre Director for Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, PA. Matthew is also a singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Here, Matt takes a moment to share with us his story and how being a Theatre major at Gannon made the difference for finding the right opportunities to achieve his goals. ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: ALAINA MANCHESTER Alaina Manchester is a assistant professor of theatre in Gannon University’s School of Communication and the Arts. Alaina graduated from Gannon University with her BA in Theatre and Communication Arts and she earned her MFA in Acting from the University of Florida. She earned her Actors Equity Membership Candidacy Card by performing at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville Florida in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" (Hermia) and "A Christmas Carol" (Mrs. Fezzywig). Her directing credits include "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" for Gannon University Shakespeare Summer Nights, "Melancholy Play" for Gannon University, "All The King’s Women" for The Erie Playhouse, and "Dorian Grey" and "Seminar" for Dramashop. She has also performed internationally in Germany, Czech Republic, and Greece with UF’s International Theatre Program: "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Eunice), "Romeo and Juliet" (Nurse), and "Oedipus" (Servant). ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: NICOLE LOSSIE Nicole Lossie is the Marketing and Social Media Specialist in the University Marketing department at Gannon University. Nicole graduated from Gannon University with her BA in Theatre and Communication Arts in 2011. After graduating from the School of Communication and the Arts, Nicole accepted a position with Cumulus Media in Erie. She worked with Cumulus Media as a Promotions Assistant and On-Air Talent. Prior to working at Cumulus, Nicole was a Promotions Assistant and Board Operator for Citadel Broadcasting. During her time at Gannon, Nicole was the Editor-in-Chief for Edge Magazine, Programming Intern for KDKA in Pittsburgh, and On-Air DJ/New Media Director for Gannon's 90.5fm WERG. ALUMNI PROFILE: BECCA COLEMAN - Theatre (Class of 2014) SCHUSTER THEATRE: What was your major at Gannon (if not Theatre) and when did you graduate? BECCA: I graduated from Gannon in 2014 with a BA Theatre and a concentration in History. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? BECCA: Initially, Gannon was one of my top choices because my dad, Mr.Coleman, works there and introduced me to all of the great staff and students that are at Gannon. After my rehearsals, I would often go to the power room after dad introduced me to a new staff member or student for the day. So, automatically I felt like I had a second home there but what made me want to pursue a theatre major there was the theatre itself and the curriculum. The Schuster, being a black box theatre, gives you a lot of opportunity to work with a variety of methods and productions that may not read as well on a larger stage or in a larger space. The class sizes also allowed a more intimate atmosphere, which i prefer. It was a challenge at times, but the set up of the curriculum was designed so you learn how to fend for yourself, while also being educated in skills to survive and thrive. For example, my home base is musical theatre. So although I was given acting, directing and theatre criticism classes, which helped me develop the skills I need to perform and research roles, it was up to me to find my own voice teacher and dance classes that fit for me. I cannot tell you how much that has helped me in my professional life. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? BECCA: Being self-sufficient is vital to working in the business and Gannon challenges you to take responsibility for these things and supports you in doing so. If you tell the staff you want to do musical theatre, or whatever it may be professionally, they will make sure that you stay true to yourself and the promise you made to yourself to make it happen. I've worked in professional spaces where the directors are impressed with my ability to progress the process on my own. I've also had company members compliment and observe the initiative that I take to develop my craft on my own, which is something I learned through my education at Gannon. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? BECCA: The show that stands out to me most was 'Nevermore' by Matt Connor with Fr.Shawn Clerkin directing. This was the first show that really challenged me to act outside of a song and not because there was an immense amount of dialogue for me, but because my songs were so lyrical that it required an immense amount of awareness by the actor. It was also one of the biggest musical challenges I've been given. The tightness of the chords and the context of the numbers left little room for inconsistencies. I would love to do that show again in the future, now that I'm older and curious about how it would resonate with me today. SCHUSTER THEATRE: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? BECCA: My time at Gannon was always busy! I was also pursuing interests in history and research, but in general, there was always something to do within the theatre all year round. I was in shows at the Schuster and the community, APO, doing history research, voice lessons, dance lessons, helping within the tech side of the Schuster and classes of course. My time was always busy and full, but filled with a lot of rewards because of it! SCHUSTER THEATRE: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? BECCA: Like I said earlier, the staff was always there to tell me what I wanted to know and what I needed to know. I developed an interest and love for puppetry because of the staff as well as having real conversations about what I'm asking for within a career and that it's not going to be as easy as school. I always valued my real life talk with my advisors. Learning more as nd more about what skills I need to develop, how my plays can develop, how to advertise myself and my skills. It's because of the staff that I had the courage and interest to audition for SpringboardNYC, a highly selective musical theatre intensive hosted by the American Theatre Wing. They were extremely supportive when I got into the program and helped me really know what it took to be a professional in musical theatre. I've taken a lot of the advice and skills that my advisors within the theatre have given me and applied them to a career. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What have you been up to since you graduated? BECCA: After graduation in May, I moved to Chicago in September. Since then I have been in mulitiple productions in Chicago, including my current production, Pricsilla, Queen of the Desert for Pride Films and Plays. I also had the opportunity to travel to Japan and be a part of the Universal Studios cast. I am currently working on a series of plays to self publish and an historical fiction novel is also in the works in between auditions. Along with my part time job, I teach an after school theatre program twice a week. I am also involved in the Theatre Intern Network throught the American Theatre Wing inpart with my participation in SpringboardNYC .Most huurecently I was featured in a nationally televised Starbucks commercial which was first aired during Colbert. I'm planning on looking into more television and movie roles in the future as well as musical theatre. SCHUSTER THEATRE: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? BECCA: One of the most important things within theatre is a love for storytelling and the fascination with the human condition. The way people interact and react to things is something fascinating and immensely rewarding. It's a journey that never ends and there is always something to say. Gannon helps foster these interests in a warm, individualized atmosphere. It's not just about being able to sing well or act well, but about what your performance does to an audience and your intentions for your performance. It's a place to tell real stories in a theatre that allows an intimate experience. It's so important to have that experience under your belt, particularly when big musicals from Broadway are everywhere. It's vital . Learn that theatre isn't about it lights and the costumes and the glitter, but about a real life, raw reaction from your audience. I've always said, 'If I get two people you walk out and have a dialogue, after my performance then I did my job.' In a world of digital and social media, it's important to have person to person reactions, and Gannon gives you those opportunities. ALUMNI PROFILE: NATALIE PERTZ - Theatre and Communication Arts (Class of 2014) SCHUSTER THEATRE: What was your major at Gannon (if not Theatre) and when did you graduate? NATALIE: I received my undergraduate, Bachelor of the Arts degree in Theatre and Communication Arts from Gannon in 2014. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? NATALIE: My college career did not begin at Gannon, I transferred in as a sophomore having spent my freshman year as a Vocal Performance major at Mercyhurst University. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I spent a few weeks studying Shakespeare in London, England. On this trip I was one of ten American students and of those ten, I was the only one that was not majoring in theatre. That trip was pivotal for me as I realized that while I enjoyed music, my heart was in the world of theatre, and I made a promise to myself that I would work the rest of my life for a chance to exist in that world. After having this exciting but slightly intimidating realization, I emailed Fr. Shawn- having already been in two shows with him and considering him a theatrical mentor- to ask for some advice as to how I ought to move forward. Fr. Shawn immediately responded and though it was July, he encouraged me to transfer to Gannon as a theatre , give it a try, and if I wasn't crazy about it, he would assist me in transferring elsewhere. ...The rest is history! SCHUSTER THEATRE: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? NATALIE: One of the two biggest lessons I learned from my time at Gannon was that in the theatre, there is no room for egos - we're all equal pieces of one ensemble. Though it took some getting used to, I grew to enjoy and respect the department requirement that for every show, every member of the department- whether actor, "techie", or director- was responsible for striking the set. This routine was a constant silent reminder that each of us- whether we're running the board or the lead in the show- is just as necessary to the "show going on" as the person striking the flat with you. Additionally, another equally important lesson I learned from my time at Gannon was from my adviser, mentor, professor, and friend, Miss Paula Barrett. From the beginning of my time there, Paula gave me the constant reminder that in order to make a career in theatre, it is 100% to be a self starter. Meaning, Paula always reminded me that I couldn't sit back and wait for the next opportunity, I had to find it - or if it didn't exist, I had to create it. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? NATALIE: The Children's Hour and Spring Awakening are the two most influential shows that linger in my memory from my time at Gannon for similar reasons. For both experiences, from day one of rehearsal, there was an immediate sense in the rehearsal room that every member of the cast believed 100% in the story that we were going to tell. With such a universal belief in the story, from the beginning there is a trust and security that your cast will catch you if/when you're vulnerable and take risks (as is always the task of an actor). Because of such positive communities throughout both of these processes, the shows continuously grew and though they are extremely different stories, both resulted in productions that I remain proud of to this day and regard as some of my most positive, inspirational theatrical experiences. SCHUSTER THEATRE: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? NATALIE: My time at Gannon was like a marathon. Though it is a small department, there's always a handful of different things happening simultaneously. Because I transferred to Gannon for the purpose of immersing myself in the world of theatre, I opted to 'say yes' to the majority of opportunities that came my way-. Whether I was acting, doing outreach work, directing, or being a work study, I began to explore different realms of myself as an artist that I'd never considered before...it was exciting! SCHUSTER THEATRE: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? NATALIE: As a Theater and Communication Arts major at Gannon, if there was something that I was compelled to do- whether it was in the department for the school community or in collaboration with the Erie community at large- if I approached one of our department staff with said idea, 99% of the time they were extremely supportive, encouraged me to make it happen, and always provided me with an "open door", should I encounter any hiccups along the way (as often was the case). Some big examples of this support that come to mind are my acceptance into a summer program at The Eugene O'Neil National Theatre Institute and an APO collaboration with the Erie Playhouse. In both instances, I approached the faculty to share what it was that I had in mind and in both instances they responded with 'great, how can we work together to make this happen?'. Natalie Pertz in Oliver at the Redhouse Arts Center. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What have you been up to since you graduated? NATALIE: Since graduating, I have lived in three exciting cities (Chicago, Hartford, Syracuse) working in the world of theatre and outreach/community engagement. The summer after graduation, I created the role of Outreach Coordinator for a crowdfunding platform based in Chicago called Benevolent. Following that experience for the 2014-2015 season, I worked as an Education Apprentice/teaching artist at Hartford Stage (a Tony-award winning regional theatre) in Connecticut. In this position, every week I would travel to a different school around the state and get students excited about reading/literacy by way of introducing them to theatre and performance. Currently, I'm beginning my second year with Redhouse Arts Center, a professional multi-arts organization based in Syracuse, NY. For Redhouse, I'm a full-time enrichment teacher in the city schools. I love my job because there's a lot of variety- I get to teach arts-based curriculum to students of all ages (Pre K - 6th grade) during the day and in the evenings, you can often find me performing in a number of the Redhouse productions (which combine professional and community artists with students and people from partner organizations). SCHUSTER THEATRE: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? NATALIE: Just like many experiences that you will be faced with throughout your life, college is what you make of it. I was successful at Gannon because I chose to immerse myself in the department (exploring opportunities both in and outside of my comfort zone) and because of the relationships I established with our faculty. When you're considering what kind of college education you want, Gannon is a great example of what a good small, liberal arts college can do. Because of our intimate department, the faculty always encouraged me to come to them for support and I always knew that they were around and would make themselves available, whether or not they were busy with something else. SCHUSTER THEATRE: Thank you Natalie for taking the time to share your story and insights about your experience studying at Gannon. We wish you success in all that you do! ALUMNI PROFILE: BRITTNIE KNIGHT - Theatre and Communication Arts (Class of 2013) SCHUSTER THEATRE: What was your major at Gannon (if not Theatre) and when did you graduate? BRITTNIE: B.A. Theater Communications in May 2013 SCHUSTER THEATRE: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? BRITTNIE: I didn't start at Gannon as a theater student. I initially went to Gannon as an enligh/pre-law major, and I went because my mother works there and it's free. Why did I switch the theatre? Well, I was going through a really though time in and out of the classroom. I didn't know where I fit in and felt so lost. So, sophomore year Christmas break I went to my parents crying about being miserable and they both essentially said "You've been on stage your whole life, why don't you do theatre." I've never been so motivated to get something done, but by the end of the break I knew I was walking into AJ Miceli's office the first day to get me new schedule. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? BRITTNIE: Shawn Clerkin has the ability to see something in you that you might not know is there, and he'll make sure you see it. Even if it's in the most annoying way possible. I learned that I was capable of being a leader and able to balance a lot successfully at one time. I learned what a true friend is, and am still friends with the people from Alpha Psi Omega and the Theatre program. I TRULY began my journey of discovering what it's like to navigate this world as a intelligent, capable nonconventional woman of color from being in the Gannon Theater program. Also, I have yet to find a program that apporpriately prepares you for theater after college. Making a living only on stage is hard, and won't get any easier. This program leaves you so well rounded that you become more than a triple threat on and off the stage. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? BRITTNIE: I have two. Spring Awakening. It is one of my favorite shows and has some of the best music. I had an emotional attachment to that show before it was even cast. I didn't get the part I wanted and it REALLY hurt my feelings. It was probably one of the best examples of working with what you're given and showing my cast mates and directors that I will run with whatever you give me and give 110%. Also, The World Goes 'Round. Just getting the chance to FINALLY break out of my shell and show my chops singing "Maybe This Time". I'll never forget how empowered it made me feel. It was also my last production as Gannon..it was very bittersweet. Brittnie Knight in the 2013 Gannon University Schuster Theatre production of The World Goes 'Round. SCHUSTER THEATRE: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? BRITTNIE: The best thing that has ever happened to me thus far. It's really hard to type this and put it into words because I'm not sure if I know any that really sum up my experience. The Gannon theatre program and communications programs are family. We laugh, fight and cry together and for each other. It was and still is the best. SCHUSTER THEATRE: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? BRITTNIE: The faculty come packing so much experience. The connections you can make from just knowing the professors only add to the realm of possibility during college and after. The open door policy allows you to really discuss and ask questions. Being in the Gannon Program I traveled and performed in Scotland and studied in London, England. The faculty found my strengths and allowed me to shine in roles of leadership and worked with me through my weaknesses. With the encouragement of MANY of the faculty I applied to Arts Administration graduate programs and was accepted to multiple prestige programs. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What have you been up to since you graduated? BRITTNIE: Right after Gannon I moved to Philadelphia ( with my friend Allison who was also in the Theater Communications program!) to begin the Master of Science Arts Administration program at Drexel University. My time at Drexel I began working at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and became the president of the Arts Administration Graduate Association in 2014. Between 2014-2015 I received a promotion after one year at the Cultural Alliance, obtained my Masters and became involved with the Emerging Arts Leaders of Philadelphia. I have since moved on to now work in Events and Community Relations for Indego Philadelphia's Bike Share, launched a podcast, write for a women's lifestyle blog and was recently cast in a show for Philadelphia's Fringe Festival this September. Gannon opened these doors, gave me the drive and the skills to accomplish so much in 3 short years. Brittnie Knight in rehearsals for Manayunk Theatre Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. SCHUSTER THEATRE: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? BRITTNIE: The world continues to spiral out into chaos...it seems almost everyday. It's important to be ready for anything. You want to leave college equipped with skills that still allow you to CHOOSE your career path. At Gannon you can be on stage, designing sets, learning graphic design and on a TV show all at the same time. Gannon allows you to study what you want AND play sports. I don't know of any other school where I could've been on stage while building my life post-college at the same time. You leave this program smarter, stronger and more capable than you started 100% of the time. The professors live and breathe the program JUST as much as the students. The possibilities are literally endless in the Theatre program at Gannon University. SCHUSTER THEATRE: Thank you Brittnie for taking the time to share your story and insights about your experience studying at Gannon. We wish you success in all that you do! ALUMNI PROFILE: NICOLE GERENYI - Theatre (Class of 2003) SCHUSTER THEATRE: What was your major at Gannon (if not Theatre) and when did you graduate? NICOLE: I graduated from Gannon in 2003 with a Theatre major and minors in Psychology and Advertising. I returned in 2003-04 to get my secondary teaching certification in English and Communications (to teach Theatre). SCHUSTER THEATRE: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? NICOLE: I didn’t know I was going to study theatre when I got to Gannon. I was signed up as “Elementary Education”, but this was mostly because I was undecided and my mother said this would be a good fit. In high school, I danced pretty heavily and did the musicals at my school because it was another way to dance. I always LOVED being on stage, or taking charge of the skits and such we did in class for projects (in all grades), but I didn’t understand that theatre was my passion until I got to Gannon. As a freshman, I missed shows, and I went to the registrar and asked about the communications and theatre program. They sent me to see M.C., but she was out for the day, so I met Shawn Clerkin instead. That day changed my life, and I have never turned back since. Shawn took the time to show me the space, introduce me to the work studies who were in that day, and sat down to talk about why I wanted to change my major for sophomore year. He got to know me, and I know I wouldn’t have had that time and attention if it were a larger, and more commercialized, school. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? NICOLE: I learned so many things through my time at Gannon. I learned how to be in an ensemble, both play and musical, through shows like Hair, The Laramie Project, and The Other Shore. I learned how to move on from the loss of a roommate from the support of a department that loved her too (Jenine Mineo), and continue performing like a professional no matter what the outside circumstances are in Much Ado About Nothing. I learned how to do practical things, like build a flat and apply corrective stage makeup, but I also learned how to direct, be a leader, be a follower, be a friend, support and celebrate the arts, read and analyze a play. I learned how to be an adult, and a risk-taker being who lived life. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? NICOLE: I think I grew the most in The Laramie Project and Blood Brothers. I had great experiences in those shows, that stretched me as an actor - and the directors had enough faith in me to cast me in meaty roles. Shawn cast me as Linda, in Blood Brothers, and it provided me the opportunity to work in a unique stage space (which inspired me just this year to stage The Importance of Being Earnest in an alleyway stage too), and go in depth with a character study. In Laramie, Paula pushed me as an actor and demanded more of me. I had to have unique physicalities and vocal qualities, and not rely on costume to get me by. Playing Reggie (the cop) was scary and exciting all at the same time - and isn’t that theatre in a nutshell? SCHUSTER THEATRE: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? NICOLE: I want to go back and do it again. I met some of the most amazing human beings, who are still a part of my everyday life today. I grew as a person, learned to love learning, and contribute to a program I loved. I got directing opportunities at the age of 19, through Alpha Psi Omega, and the community of theatre around Gannon, who encouraged artists (The former Director’s Circle Theatre group, led by Michael). SCHUSTER THEATRE: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? NICOLE:They got me connected with other local theatres to help continue supporting my passions, let me assist with choreography and direction as a student, and always pushed me to do better. I teach, direct, choreograph, and lead because my professors modeled what it looks like to do those things. SCHUSTER THEATRE: What have you been up to since you graduated? NICOLE: I have my Masters in Theatre from Villanova University. I am a tenured teacher in Pa, in Communications and English. I have taught 9 - 12 graders for 9 years in various English classes, dance classes, Theatre I, Honors Theatre II, Musical Theatre, Speech and Debate, and Creative Writing. I direct and choreograph 3 shows a year at my thriving Theatre Department. I directed and produced a show at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. SCHUSTER THEATRE: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? NICOLE: If you are looking for a program that will take the time to find out what you want and need as an artist, push you to know ALL parts of theatre and not just performance, help you grow from teen to adult, and care - go to Gannon. I needed a smaller school because I needed accountability, the personal connections to my education and craft, and to grow my confidence and independence. ALUMNI PROFILE: NICHOLAS ATTANASIO - Theatre (Class of 2003) SCHUSTER: What was your major at Gannon and when did you graduate? NICK: My major was theatre and I graduated in 2003. SCHUSTER: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? NICK: The environment. When I came to visit I felt wanted. There was less concern about my talent and more emphasis on getting to know me as a person. SCHUSTER: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? NICK: Freedom to explore the characters you play in shows...which in turn makes you more responsible. SCHUSTER: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? NICK: Blood Brothers. First, it was highly received and such a great piece. With the cast, Shawn Clerkin's direction...and the part itself being a challenge it's one of, if not my favorite show I've done. If I could go back in time and do it again? I would in a heartbeat. SCHUSTER: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? NICK: I was only here for my Junior and Senior years. Before I came to Gannon I went to a strict theatre school that made me lose the passion for performing. Coming to Gannon I got that passion back again. It also opened the door for me to direct and write...which is now what I do the most. SCHUSTER: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? And what have you been up to since you graduated? NICK: Gannon had some of the best staff and faculty around. If I ever had a question or concern, or if I just wanted to talk...their doors were always open. After I graduated, I still stayed in touch with most if not all my professors. Since I graduated, I went on to earn my Masters in Education. I currently work at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. Theatre-wise..I went on to perform professionally for many, many years. I also ran the theatre program at Farmingdale State College. Directed over 50 shows and wrote two Off-Broadway Plays. I've openly admitted that it would be a dream of mine to come back and work for Gannon. Will that happen? We'll see. SCHUSTER: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? NICK: Gannon Theatre gives you the freedom to explore. Some theater programs are very "cookie cutter" and want you to act or perform a certain way. Personally, I feel the only way to grow was an actor, director, writer is to have that freedom to explore, make choices with strong guidance from your professors. ALUMNI PROFILE: KATHLEEN CAHILL - Theatre/Communication Arts (Class of 2011) Schuster Theatre: What was your major at Gannon (if not Theatre) and when did you graduate? Kathleen: Theatre/Communication Arts ---2011 Schuster Theatre: What made you choose Gannon and studying Theatre at Gannon versus going somewhere else? Kathleen: I actually came to Gannon for nursing and auditioned for "The Bald Soprano", directed by AJ Miceli, just for fun. I grew to realize that while nursing was great, my love for theatre, the arts and media drove me to change my major. Schuster Theatre: What are some of your most valued lessons you learned from studying or being involved in the theatre at Gannon? Kathleen: I will never forget the day that Fr. Shawn Clerkin called me on my cell because I had overslept and was late for his class. He told me I better get to class. Afterwards, he pulled me aside and, while my oversleeping was not intentional, he explained to me how unprofessional it was and that I needed to be more careful of how I presented myself. I have used the words from my professors to hold myself to a higher standard of professionalism and to keep myself accountable for my work responsibilities, choices and duties. Schuster Theatre: What show did you do here that stands out to you the most and why? Kathleen: My sophomore year, I was cast as an understudy/Gingy the dancing gingerbread man in "A Tuna Christmas", directed by Jax Vadney. I was told I would get to perform in one show as the multiple characters I was understudying for, but the rest of the performance, I was donning tap shoes and a terrifying gingerbread man mascot costume that I couldn’t see out of. I had my shot at the performance I understudied for with only one rehearsal under my belt. This show made me realize that no matter what the circumstances, I can do anything I put my mind and heart to. Schuster Theatre: How would you describe your time at Gannon, in particularly your involvement in the theatre? Kathleen: The Schuster Theatre gave me more memories in four very short years than the rest of my life. The friendships I formed here are long-lasting and have given me more joy than I could’ve imagined. I learned lessons that can apply in everyday life, not just stage life. Schuster Theatre: How did the faculty and staff of the Theatre program support and guide you through your education and onward to your career? Kathleen: The faculty and staff knew I had a passion for performing arts. They loved that about their students. They took it a step further for us, though and made sure that while I was a performer, I was also learning to be a writer, producer, director, communicator, and speaker. They made me a well-rounded performer and made sure I had the skills to survive in this dog-eat-dog world of communication arts. Schuster Theatre: What have you been up to since you graduated? Kathleen: After I graduated, I served two years as an AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) at a local non-profit agency working with children and youth. After my two years, the agency I volunteered at offered me a Marketing, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator position. Currently, I am working as the Assistant Director of Service-Learning right here at Gannon University! Schuster Theatre: If you could speak directly to high school students looking at Gannon as a possibility, what would you tell them about why they should choose to study Theatre at Gannon? Kathleen: What I loved about studying theatre at Gannon is that you have more stage time than anywhere else you could go to. Sure, going to New York is every theatre kid’s dream, but be prepared to sit on the sidelines while the seniors show you how performing is done. The hands-on experience I received on Gannon’s Schuster Theatre stage was more beneficial because I had four complete years to find myself as an actor and hone in on my skills. The professors engaged me my entire four years. They also knew who I was as a person, outside of the classroom and helped me along the way to graduation. Thank you Kathleen for taking the time to tell us about your experience studying Theatre at Gannon University. For more information and to keep up to date, please follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.