Where did you find the inspiration for your piece in Illuminating Voices: “Family”?
The inspiration came directly from my time at Loyola as a student. I remember very distinctly that awareness that I could ‘choose’ new members of my family. Shared holiday’s, first apartments, that’s all a part of beginning to create your autonomous identity away from your birth family. It’s a very powerful time. Additionally, I was a sophomore when we sent troops to the Persian Gulf and it was the first time in my and my classmates’ lives that the U.S. was at war. That feels so different than the current student body, a majority of whose lives up to this point (until very recently) has included a backdrop of the U.S. at war.
How has your time at Loyola, both as a student and professor, impacted you as an artist?
I’m such a strong believer in the Jesuit philosophy of education and I take very seriously the value of a liberal arts education. My experience has been that being exposed to a broad base of knowledge plants seeds for further exploration. That is at the core of artistry: exploring, asking questions, seeking truth. Practicing the craft of storytelling by its very nature takes you to many places that are not familiar to you. We know how to navigate those places. And of course, the tremendous faculty in Loyola’s theatre program gave me all of the building blocks to marry those two things: the tools of the craft with the desire for knowledge. Those folks have been in my life for a long, long time. Sarah Gabel, Jonathan Wilson, Joe Glueckert…they have literally seen me grow up.
What were your thoughts when you were approached about taking part in the Illuminating Voices project?
I was honored! So happy to be a part of the DFPA’s new chapter.
What impact do you believe the opening of the Newhart Family Theatre will have on the arts at Loyola?
I didn’t get to see the finished Newhart before I left town but from the pictures I’ve seen and the plans, it looks like a great space. From a practical standpoint, it’s the kind of space in terms of intimacy and configuration that you see a lot of across the country right now. So it seems right that as a part of training, students work their muscles in it. I also love the fact that Newhart himself is honored with the facility. He characterizes so many things that we associate with the theatre landscape in Chicago: smart, irreverent, and innovative.
What is it like to work at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as a fellow in the prestigious Devos Institute of Arts Management?
It is nothing short of wild. The resources are mind blowing, especially being from Chicago where we are the crowned champions of making it work with bubble gum and duct tape. And it is not just the financial resources, but the human resources and the insight that people have about how to do their jobs well. The work itself is exciting and interesting, but, most importantly, it feels like a culminating experience of many avenues I have explored in my arts career fitting together quite nicely, including my time at Loyola. There’s a great emphasis on education here in many facets.