Arts & Culture / Featured / Mosaic / January 20, 2016

Building Rep Term

Dakota Stipp ‘17, Sound Designer

TKS: What are your daily responsibilities as sound designer?

DS: My day-to-day isn’t typical. We have two sound designers, one for each show, and we work quite independently. I have to turn in a ready design before tech week, which is in about a month. In the morning we have meetings or a lecture. Then, from around 1 to 5p.m., I’ll work on sound design. That includes working with the script, setting the right cues and keeping everything in line with the show. The most interesting thing I am working on at the moment is figuring out the best way to play sound around the stage. The end of my day is rehearsal from 7 to 11p.m., so it’s an all day thing.

TKS: How does someone with a Computer Science major decide to take on theatre and Rep Term?

DS: The simple answer is that I love it. The more detailed answer is that your major doesn’t define you. I have aspirations to work in theatre as much in computer science. I have evaluated what I want to do more at this point, and though the theatre major would be useful, I’m learning technology. Computer science is learning about technology and how to use it to your advantage. I’m also a musician, so music is probably my minor. I have found a way to compile all three of those things, and what better way than to create this piece of art that will end up on stage?

TKS: What personal goals do you want to achieve during Rep Term?

DS: I think my first goal is to learn how to produce a professional quality sound design. We don’t have class for that here, we just have Intro to Tech that spends one day on it. There is special paperwork I don’t know how to finish and I am learning how to do that online, also through mentoring with [Associate Professor of Theatre] Craig Choma, who is incredibly helpful. I’ve never been in a show that is non-realistic and both shows for Rep Term actually are. There are very unique roles and I am learning how to do those things.


Emma Lipson ‘18, Stage Manager

TKS: What are some of your responsibilities as a stage manager?

 EL: Each production has their own time. We can go over the different issues, conversations or questions that need to be answered. My job is a little different. While most people show up to rehearsal at 7p.m., I show up at 6p.m. My ASMs [Assistant Stage Managers] and I get there and we sweep, mop, set up props, set up reports and anything necessary for the rehearsal. We also talk to the director and answer any questions they might have before we start.

TKS: How did you get into theatre?

EL: My fun fact is that when I was four or something, my parents took me and my sister to “Beauty and the Beast.” At the end of the show, my mom turns to me and says, “What was your favorite part of the show?” and apparently I said the chocolate covered raisins. When I was in high school, I was really more of a musician and so I played in the pit for all of the high school shows. For the next few years I was Pit Manager, which is a very washed down version of stage managing. When I came to Knox, I had already signed on to be an ASM, and I fell in love with it and was doing that almost every night.

TKS: What are your goals for the term and what do you want to get out of it?

EL: I have a lot of goals for Rep Term. One goal was to see how well I would do with my sole goal being theatre. If I was tired of theatre by the end of the term, I should probably consider a different career. Another goal has been to vastly improve my stage management. I’m excited to see how well I can help the directors and to see how many moving parts I can control and manage. My final goal is to work on my professionalism. I want people to trust me the same way I trusted my stage managers my first year.


Martha Brown ‘17, Actress/PR

TKS: What are your daily responsibilities as an actress?

MB: Right now, everyone is feeling out their positions and feeling out what projects need their time. It’s been really mathematical so far and every day I am doing something different. Recently, I’ve been talking to local businesses, like baked and The Beanhive, and asking them to do Rep-Term-themed dishes. Our hopes are that people will come in and say “Oh, the Rep Term cookie, what is that?” It’s really exciting. Rehearsals have been consistent so far. For our director, it’s been a process of putting bodies where they are needed, so we are powering through the big scenes with the ensemble and processing everyone.

TKS: What made you decide to start focusing on theatre?

MB: I used to spend summers in Minnesota with my grandparents. The high school was always putting on a show and my grandma was always trying to get me out of the house and involved so that I would have a good summer. She kind of stuck me into one of the shows, and I was quite passive about it. Then I kept on doing it because I didn’t know what else to do and I really started to like it.

TKS: What are you striving to achieve during Rep Term?

MB: I want to take things more seriously, as well as taking myself more seriously. I want to learn to respect the process of something, because if you can do that, you become responsible and you become accountable. You’ll start to have people relying on you. That’s one major thing about Rep Term: Everybody is relying on everybody. That is holding everyone to their “shiitake mushrooms.” Mistakes are acceptable if you are trying, and that is welcome, but if you don’t pull your weight, everyone is going to know where the hole in the system is coming from.


Ian Tully ‘17, Master Carpenter

TKS: What is an average day like for a Master Carpenter in Rep Term?

IT: The average day, almost every day of the week, is going into the scene shop, meeting with everyone to plan on how to get the best use of a day, and then we have five hours of shop call. We have two sets to build, which is twice the amount of work as the normal term. We get through shop call and then head into rehearsal. We normally get done around 11p.m., head home, do some work and start again tomorrow.

TKS: What guided you toward using your skills for theatre and Rep Term?

IT: Rep Term is something that brought me to Knox. I think it is a very unique program for any college and I think it offers a unique opportunity. It’s challenging across the board because our resources are limited and we have a small faculty. Rep Term is when we push everything to the limit and try to make the most out of everything we have. It’s very difficult and it’s also part of what drew me to Knox. I think it’s what makes our theatre program here really unique across the nation.

TKS: What are some of your goals for the term?

IT: Finding time for sleep and not going insane, basically [laughs]. I feel like the only option is success, and I think that’s across the board. We have been getting some fantastic work done already for however long we’ve been doing crew calls. With all of the work that goes into it, I don’t think anyone is going to let it be anything less than brilliant. It’s going to be a lot of work and a huge challenge, but at the end of the term I think we are all going to walk away really proud of it. It’s challenging me in a lot of new ways. I’m trying to make sure everyone is utilized, so it’s challenging in terms of those things.


Emma Lister ‘17, Scenic Painter

TKS: What are some of the day to day responsibilities of a scenic painter?

EL: Usually the mornings are open to production meetings, which not everyone has to go to. It’s where they talk about the specifics of each individual show, like what props do we need, what’s working, what isn’t working, what needs to happen more. Everyone is assigned to a team in the afternoons. Like, I’m head scenic painter, but there isn’t anything to paint yet because the set people are just starting out. I go to shop call and help build things. There are costumes, props, and some people are leading actors in character work, and rehearsals are set for the evenings.

TKS: How did you get started in theatre?

 EL: I did some stage crew in high school, so I learned about basic things like how to build a stair unit and how to use power tools. Then, I took a break from it so I could focus on studio art. Coming back to Knox, shows are much more intriguing from a design standpoint than they were in high school. I started with designing panels for shows last year. I did the painting and then last term, I did my first full set design where I designed it, built it and painted it with a lot of help from people who were working on the production. So I’m kind of working my way up.

TKS: What are your main goals for the term?

EL: We want to work cohesively. I feel like the last thing we want is for there to be drama and small squabbles, because that isn’t how a theatre company works. Every year, Knox gets more resources and we learn from the last Rep Term, so our goals would be to put on the best show Knox has ever seen. I think of Rep Term as a simulator for a professional theatre environment. I would like my team to be accountable and to get our assignments done on time as a cohesive team of the larger part that is Rep Term. I hope I can step up and be a good leader. When I do my studio art, it’s just me and my work and I don’t have to demand respect or make sure people aren’t overworked. I want it to be a good time, but I also want to be accountable for how my team performs.


Willa Coufal ‘18, Costume Designer

TKS: What are some of your daily responsibilities as a costume designer?

WC: As of right now, most of what I do is ordering people around [laughs]. I spend a lot of time in the costume shop measuring and sorting. I’ve been finding the whole process of putting together a show quite interesting. Right now, we have set days for production and company meetings, but we have also been having seminar classes for design choices and why we make certain choices, and that’s been a lot of fun. There are a lot of hours that seem like you’re doing the same thing, but it has all been very engaging.

TKS: What inspired you to get into theatre?

WC: I actually got into theatre at a very young age. I’m from Chicago and when I was young, my brother and I heard that the Lyric Opera had extra spots open for children. It was a good way not only to learn about the rehearsal processes and meet the performers; it was also an excellent way to get cheap tickets to the opera. I originally wanted to be a singer, but couldn’t follow through with it. What I mostly took away from it was that I liked pretty costumes and I shelved that dream for a while. It seemed as though very few did it. I didn’t come to Knox expecting to go into costume, but I got a job in the costume shop and am now seriously considering it for a career.

TKS: What are you looking to get out of Rep Term?

WC: The main goal of Rep Term is sort of creating an environment as if we were a repertory theatre putting on a show, which sounds so very abstract. It sort of means developing good habits that hopefully you should have as a student, but putting them into a theatre context. In Rep Term, if you are on time you are already five minutes late. The outside goal is to become more accountable and to be more creative than you usually are. It’s been an interesting experience so far, because I can already feel myself growing. It sounds super stupid, and I’m not even self reflecting that much, but I just feel so exhausted at the end of the day and I feel so accomplished.

Mitch Prentice
Mitch Prentice graduated in 2017, majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. He volunteered for TKS his sophomore and junior year, and worked as Mosaic Editor his senior year. He has interned alongside Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune and runs his own website.

Tags:  acting design harbach theatre repertory term Repertory Theatre Term theatre department

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