If you have recently wandered through the halls of Herrick Theatre, the home of the Theatre and Kinesiology Departments, you may have noticed that there are some new faces. After the departure of three professors last semester, including former department chair Robert Starko, the Theatre Department was left with a bit of a hole to fill. They found a chair for the year in Ian MacInnes, a professor from the English Department, but they still needed to find replacement professors.
Mark Hoffland, the only returning theatre professor, was involved with the interviewing and hiring process.
“We got very fortunate that we had a good talent pool to choose from. We got really high quality candidates, and it was lovely to hire very qualified people,” said Hoffland. Each of the three new hires comes with their own specialty.
Zach Fischer specializes in acting and directing. He is a visiting assistant professor from New York City. In addition to teaching his classes, Fischer will be directing Top Girls, the second show this semester. Kimberley Jones is also a visiting assistant professor from North Carolina. Her specialty is costume designing, and she will be creating the designs for upcoming shows, in addition to the classes she is teaching. The final professor, Jared Cole, is from Tennessee. He is the new technical director, and he will be teaching classes, such as a directed study in stage management. As technical director, Cole will be dealing mainly with set construction.
Amanda Bedker, a Clinton Township, Michigan, senior, has worked in the Costume Shop since her freshman year. Bedker is eager to work with the new mix of professors. “We still get the historical basis [of theatre] from Mark, but now we have the practical application of Zach, the real world experience of Kim and the know-how of Jared. I think it makes a pretty good team,” said Bedker.
All of these professors with different backgrounds are learning how to work together, but according to Hoffland, “You’re always learning something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a process like this or in life. The minute you stop learning, they should just dig a hole for you.”
The Theatre Department has the professors; now they need to get things up and running. Bedker describes it as a kind of limbo as the professors and student employees get the costume and scene shops set up to suit their needs.
“[The new professors] are learning [about] our department and our students as we’re trying to learn the material and kind of restructure how everything works,” said Bedker. Kimberley Jones, one of the new professors, describes the experience as “very hectic, but great.”
According to Bedker, the real test will be when they start getting designs out there and building shows. This test will come sooner rather than later with the department’s first production of the year, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, which opens October 20.
Photo by Katherine Buzan