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Sarah Whitcomb

TTS: Decoded

Hi again! It’s me. Moving forward in these blogs, I’m going to start using some language common to The Theatre School students -- as a conservatory, we have a shared set of vocabulary to describe what we do as theatre students, but for those of you who may be new to this, let me explain! Every quarter, I’ll be de-coding some commonly used phrases here:

​TTS - This is short for The Theatre School. Whether you’re registering for classes, looking for somewhere to collaborate, or just chatting with another student, this is the slang you’ll use.

TTSSGA - We have our own student government! They help us with everything from having therapy dogs to organizing student-driven events that serve our 300+ student community. 

ST*RS - This stands for Support Tomorrow’s Rising Stars. It’s an organization of 4th year BFA and 3rd year MFA students that fundraise money to attend their graduate showcases in LA, Chicago, and NYC. Other funds go toward helping members pay to start their professional careers. They also put on a ton of TTS community programming - the organization has hosted everything from dances to drag shows! See our graduating class of 2017 here.​

Dramaturgy - Pronounced drama - ter - jee. This is a major and field of study within theatre. Sometimes known as “story detectives,” a dramaturg helps the creative team better serve the script and the audiences of the show.

The Reskin - Actually called the Merle Reskin Theatre, this space is a 1000+ seat proscenium stage. We host 3 children’s productions a year in this theatre -- more info to come in upcoming blogs. To see a history of the Merle Reskin, click here. It’s a building ingrained with Chicago culture!

The Fullerton - The Fullerton Stage is another one of our theatre spaces. It’s located in the first floor of our 5 floor building, and it holds 250 audience members in a thrust-style arrangement. This fall, we’ll be producing Into The Woods there! Check out Into The Woods here.

The Healy - This is yet another theatre space -- and it’s my favorite. This large black box has 8 different seating configurations, 5 catwalks, a floor to ceiling window, and an amazing view of the city. As of October 1st, this show is loading in for Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England -- more info here.​

Our Season - Referring to our production season, this statement can reference any of our 30+ shows in more than 6 theatre spaces per year. In addition to having this season databased online (we do everything from Shakespeare to new work!), our fourth floor has an amazing calendar of the season.

Have any questions on these terms? Want to learn more about how we function here? Email  theatreadmissions@depaul.edu for more information or to request terms for next quarter!


How To Spend a Dark Day

As someone in theatre, my days don’t end after 5 pm. I’m usually in rehearsal, working on creative projects, or in meetings. This past Monday, though, was a dark day (for all of the non-theatre folks reading this: a dark day is a night off from rehearsal or performances).

On this night off, I had the privilege of attending a Public Program at Victory Gardens Theatre. Victory Gardens is one of Chicago’s Tony-Award winning theatres, and it just so happens to be a 5 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

Many of our professors and students are connected with Victory Gardens -- whether they’ve worked there, acted there, or interned there -- which added to the fun of the night. I was attending a conversation between Jeanine Tesori (who has worked on shows such as Shrek, Fun Home, and Violet)and Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune Theatre Critic and DePaul University professor.

While the conversation and subsequent performances were amazing, one specific part really inspired me: At one point in the discussion, Jeanine said, “I’m happy Fun Home happened when it did in my career. It was at a point where my ambition matched my skill.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking about that statement. What does it mean to be a young artist, to live in a city full of art, to have tons of ambition, and not to know where your skill level lies?

I’m a director -- this means that regardless of my skill level compared to others in the rehearsal room, I’m expected to be an ambitious facilitator of storytelling. My fabulous professors have prepared me with a toolkit of ways to go about this; I’ve also had the opportunity to direct and assist throughout my 2 years in Chicago. Like others I go to school with, I’m constantly “on the grind” -- finding new gigs, stories to tell, programs to attend, and communities to interact with.

To me, those experiences are just as valuable at developing my talent as the experiences inside the classroom.

I’m thankful to have access to programs like this one at Victory Gardens. I know it’s absolutely a privilege to hear established theatre professionals speak every day. What I find myself wondering, though, is how I can use this privilege to enrich my education and take with me to the rehearsal room.

Part of being a 20-something means forging this path on my own, and part of being a theatre artist means combining my work within DePaul with my opportunities outside of DePaul. With the help of my formal and Chicago-based education, maybe, eventually, I can reach a point where my talent and ambition race side by side.

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New School Year, New Students

Now that the school year is back in full swing, I’m finally settling into my junior year at The Theatre School (TTS).  One of my absolute favorite parts of fall is getting to know the new TTS students!

Our conservatory is really small; we hover around 300-400 students spread over 12 BFA and 3 MFA programs. This means that every year, 90 new students enter a tight-knit, closely-networked group of upperclassmen excited to welcome them into their community.

Being a new student can be overwhelming. I remember feeling completely prepared for college, but arriving in an arts conservatory where you have 10 people in a class and 16 hour days was still a bit of a shock (see photo at right). Two years later, now that I’m well adjusted to the ins and outs of TTS, I’m a co-coordinator of a program called the Goodman Orientation Detail Squad -- better known as the GOD Squad.

This mentorship program takes its roots from the Goodman School of Drama, what The Theatre School was called when it belonged to the Goodman Theatre (back when DePaul hadn’t “picked it up” yet!). The idea is basically to pair upperclassman students with underclassmen in their same major, creating a community of empathy, networking resources, and helping adjustments to TTS. It’s amazing to see how comfortable students feel when they know just one person. As professional and grown-up we like to say we are, everyone can always use a helping hand.

It’s amazing to see where students hail from every year to come study here in Chicago! Every student has a different background, view on theatre, and framework on the world. My favorite part of this program, though, is the yearly reminder of the excitement that comes with entering college.

When I’m knee deep in homework and starting to feel some Fall Blues, it’s the excitement of a new Theatre School class that keeps me motivated. What better way to start the school year than to be surrounded by 90 nervous, excited young artists?

If you’re starting your career at DePaul this fall, remember this: GOD Squad program or not, students like me are ecstatic to help you through your journey. Your transition to Chicago is one of the bumpiest, most amazing, inspiring times of your life. Find your squad and live it up!

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Meet Sarah!

Hey y’all!

I’m Sarah, a junior pursuing a BFA in Theatre Arts, concentrating in Directing, in The Theatre School (TTS). I’ll be DeBlogging all year, so keep reading to find out a little bit about me:

pride

Hey Sarah, where ya from? I’m originally from Northville, Michigan - a small suburban town about 5 hours away from Chicago. My family loved traveling when I was a kid, and after visiting many urban areas, I decided Chicago was best for both my theatre career and my life. I now live in Boystown, a neighborhood about a mile north of DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. It’s full of history, great food, and fun! It’s also a historic site of Chicago Pride (glance at the photo to the right of me and my pals celebrating pride this year!).  Having so much culture at my doorstep is unbeatable.

What do you do? Within The Theatre School’s conservatory, I focus on new work and assistant directing. You’ll hear a ton about the shows I’m working on in the coming year! I work within The Theatre School’s admissions office, and I am a coordinator for the Goodman Orientation Detail Squad -- a mentorship program that pairs new TTS students with current students in their major to help the college transition. I was also a 2016 Orientation Leader. As you can tell, I absolutely love working with new students!

How about outside TTS? My work in theatre focuses a lot on nonprofit development, so many of my experiences in Chicago relate to that. I’m the Finance Director for DemonTHON, a 24-hour dance marathon benefiting Lurie Children’s Hospital. It’s DePaul’s largest philanthropic organization, which has introduced me to some fabulous people. I also work with Oxfam -- an international non-profit working to end poverty -- as one of 38 CHANGE leaders in the country.

But like… What do you do in your free time? When I’m not working on one of my projects, you can catch me eating all around the city. In each blog, I’ll share my restaurant of the week.

Restaurant of the Week: Pick Me Up Cafe! It’s a diner 2 blocks from Wrigley Field that is open until 3 am. Their vegetarian food is unbeatable, and they have a 90s vibe with endless coffee and free wifi. Check it out!

I’m super excited to share more with y’all throughout my year. Keep reading weekly to watch as I fall more and more in love with Chicago and DePaul!