Thinking Outside the Black Box
Eighteen alumni and one staff member are participating in panel discussions and offering lectures that students may attend; the day culminates with a reception in the Alumni House where students can mingle and talk with alumni. The Department of Drama is also providing a service to students, offering free headshot mini-sessions with professional photographer John Flak throughout the day.
Planning Committee Chair Tamanya M.M. Garza ’02 says the idea of connecting current students with successful alumni working in the theater business came to her when she finished her first professional theater gig as the Directing Fellow at the Philadelphia Theatre Company in 2003. “There were so many tips and tricks I had learned along the way, but there wasn’t much in the way of training manuals for the job. So I wrote one.” Garza realized that a similar resource would benefit students at her alma mater. “I recruited a few other recent grads who were working or had worked in similar internships and fellowships, and we headed back to Chestertown to give a talk,” says Garza.
Busy schedules and the construction of the new arts center put similar events on hold until this year, when two veteran drama professors—Tim Maloney and Jason Rubin—are staging The Tragedy of King Lear before retiring at the end of the semester. With the blessing of Department Chair Dr. Michele Volansky, Garza started calling friends. “The response from alumni has been outstanding,” Garza says. “We have volunteer presenters and contributors in every field, representing four decades of graduates.” Matt Biringer, Andrew Cowles, Ryder Daniels, Lauren Davenport, mindy a. early, Tamanya M. M. Garza, Allison Heishman, Corey Holland, Beth Kahn Leaman, Katie Kolacki, Rachel Loose, Melissa Maenner Walters, Kate D. Mahoney, Mary Pohlig, Tess Pohlhaus, Jessica Spotswood, Stephen Spotswood, Dr. Michele Volansky, and Lois Kitz a former casting director and current Washington College staff member.
The event, titled “Thinking Outside the Black Box,” takes place April 6at the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts. Students interested in playwriting and dramaturgy will follow a “Script” track, while would-be actors and directors will have a “Stage” track. Those interested in design or stage management can attend lectures about working backstage.
“I learned a lot about the “real world” of the arts during my first few years out of school that I thought was vital to pass on,” Garza says, but the most important reason for putting this whole thing together was to let drama students know that they are not alone. “The prospect of graduation can be daunting because so much is unknown,” says Garza. “We want to make that transition as positive as possible by arming students with knowledge about what to expect and letting them know they have a really powerful WAC alumni community to support them.”
The Washington College Dramalumni and Department of Drama, in cooperation with the Office of College Advancement, are presenting the events which were organized by a committee of arts alumni: Tamanya M. M. Garza (Chair), Lauren Davenport, Harris Allgeier (current student), Renee Newberry, Beth Kahn Leaman, Lindsay Krieg, Doug Rose, Jessica Spotswood, Rachel Loose and Emily Miller.
Harris Allgeier ’14