Drama majors consistently impress by the sheer breadth of skills they are made to acquire at the University of Dallas. From stage-managing to designing costumes, one cannot leave the drama department without a new set of talents. Margaret Claahsen, class of ‘15, who learned and proved her theatrical chops in the confines of the Margaret Jonsson Theater, has now entered the much larger Dallas theater scene.
This past summer, starting in late June and ending August 16, Claahsen was the Stage Management Intern at the WaterTower Theatre for its musical, “Sweet Charity.”
Janeth Farnsworth, the Education and Community Services Manager at WaterTower, said that the theater “really want[s] to be home for young artists,” and so it provided a perfect step for Claahsen.
She especially enjoyed meeting the local theater workers, one of whom had just come from touring as Lumiere in the Broadway “Beauty and the Beast.”
“They are all very sweet people. I was actually surprised at how little drama there was…They were all really genuinely wonderful people and really hard working,” said Claahsen. “I think my favorite part about the culture at WaterTower is that everyone is there to do their stuff …They’re there because they really want to be there, this is their job, their number one priority. So everyone just comes in hot.”
The intentionality of the workers is necessary, though, as they put on a show with a mere two and a half weeks of rehearsal time. And while the short time is impressive, it creates a different atmosphere than that of UD’s drama department.
“The biggest difference is that there is no sense of urgency generally at UD, which is good, it gives actors a chance to explore… [At WaterTower,] the actors have to do it all on their own…there wasn’t a lot of time for like, ‘let’s talk about a character.’ One of my favorite things about UD theater is when we take days to do team bonding exercises… and by the end of shows at UD you are a team and you love these people and you would die for these people,” said Claahsen. “You never get there, or I didn’t get there, at WaterTower, because you get to know people, and they’re nice people, but it’s a completely different atmosphere… there is teambuilding, but you’re doing it in a super rushed, super quick way.”
Claahsen advises students to take advantage of their time at UD, enjoying this community and the opportunities it affords.
“Do everything you can, audition for everything. And not just shows; dip your toes in every single pot, get your feet dirty, work in the costume shop. If you want to go into theater, nothing will serve you better than actually knowing every area. More education can never hurt you,” said Claahsen.