For the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to put words to that chapter being done. How much I appreciate the lessons, skills, challenges, successes, and failures of the past three years. But no matter how many times I’ve tried to quantify how grateful I am for the education I’ve been given, I kept coming back to the same theme. That for three years, the real education - the real reason to be grateful wasn’t the classes, the jobs, the shows, or even the skills I walked away with.
It was the people.
It was my fellow stage managers who gave me a chance. Gave me space to make mistakes and were there with ideas as to how to improve and a quick joke when things got difficult. Teammates, coworkers, partners in crime, roommates, role models, and lifelong friends for whom I will always be grateful.
It was the advisors who challenged us - sometimes more than we thought we could handle - with equal parts toughness and confidence in who we could become.
It was my peers - designers, technicians, actors, singers, musicians, and dancers - who let me into their lives and let me be part of the amazing stories they were working to bring to life through their incredible talents. Who encouraged and challenged, brought joy and anger, shared laughter and tears, and always ended a performance with kind words and celebration. The people who will form the next generation of theatre professionals, and who I cannot believe I get to call friends.
It was the directors who taught me how to work with and care for shows, but more importantly, casts. Who trusted me to do my job and challenged me with high expectations and demands of quality. Who built relationships with me throughout the rehearsal process, and then handed off their shows on opening night, believing I would take care of them.
It was the faculty members who explained lighting lingo, vocal support, sound gear, Italian pronunciation, winch physics, opera history and safety procedures with grace and patience. Who treated us as peers instead of students - who stopped by the production office to tell a funny story just as often as ask for help. Who instilled confidence through their trust in us and shared their talents as readily as they shared jokes.
It was my mentors - the people I didn’t see coming, but to whom I owe so much for the space they made for me in their lives. For sharing drinks and meals, successes and challenges, stories and memories, and letting me be the beneficiary of their wisdom, patience, and time.
So sure, I will miss working and playing in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. I will miss being part of Level21 and collaborating with Lyric Theatre at Illinois, Illinois Theatre, and Dance at Illinois. I will miss leading the production office. I will probably even miss attending classes…eventually. But, what I will miss the most is not seeing my KCPA family every day. And although I am looking forward to working with many of them in the professional world, I will always be grateful for the time we spent together in the windowless halls of Krannert Center’s level 2, making mistakes in a safe place, and figuring out who we wanted to be as professional artists.
So thanks, U of I, for an amazing three years. I’ll try to make you proud.