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Sarah Whitcomb

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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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!