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Working behind the scenes

Being a theatre student isn’t all about being up on stage.

Rising senior Ali Drumm, a theatre major and business management minor, came to Loyola with a focus on performance, but set her sights on production this past semester.

“Because of the theatre program at Loyola, I’ve been able to explore other facets of theatre,” Drumm, 21, says. “I’ve always been interested in production and have now completely fallen in love with it.”

This summer, Drumm got real world experience working as the assistant production manager at the Pivot Arts Festival.

Formed in September 2012, Pivot Arts aims to acts as “a pivot point, or central hub, that could connect innovative arts activity in these neighborhoods (Edgewater, Andersonville, and Uptown),” according to its website. Highlighting music, theatre, and dance as its focal points, the Pivot Arts Festival ran June 6 through June 22 at multiple locations in Edgewater, Andersonville, and Uptown. Venues ranged from an abandoned vaudeville theater to Senn High School, which Drumm helped secure.

It was Drumm’s Loyola connection that helped her land this position: Pivot Arts has a partnership with the University and three Department of Fine and Performing Arts staff members serve on its board.

Drumm has been able to weave her interests in the arts and management together in this summer position.

Leading up to the festival, Drumm was in charge of “writing and collecting artist contracts, handling rental agreements, hiring designers, [and distributing] promotional materials,” she says. She would attend weekly production meetings with Pivot staff members and keep in close contact with them in May as the inaugural festival approached.

During the festival events, Drumm acted as a liaison for the artists, performers, designers, directors, and other members of the crew. The most important takeaway for Drumm was learning how to coordinate and communicate with everyone involved.

“The way that you speak to an actor is different than the way you would speak to a designer or to a director or to another production person,” Drumm says. “They’re all coming from different places, each bringing their own strengths, weaknesses, desires, and needs, to collaborate and create something awesome. Since production ends up sort of being the glue for the entire thing, it’s important to understand how to connect with all of them.”

Her time at Pivot Arts Festival also led to some valuable networking with Chicago’s bustling theatre scene.

“Already, I’ve had an interview with the House Theatre, and I’m shadowing the director of production as they complete the tech process for their remount of Death and Harry Houdini.” 

For the rest of the summer, Drumm will continue forging her interests working under April Browning, the managing director for the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, as her management assistant. This fall, she will serve as the assistant season production manager and the assistant director/dramaturg in the spring.

Drumm plans on pursuing production management after graduation: a profession she will no doubt be prepared for.

Stay tuned to Inside Loyola the rest of the summer as we’ll be spotlighting other students and their exciting summer internships.

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