In these strange times, many students across the globe are grappling with feelings of mourning, fondness and nostalgia. Those hit especially hard: college seniors.
These seniors, who have dedicated nearly four years of their lives to their majors, relationships, activities and more at Northwestern, are being forced to say goodbye too soon.
After all of this time, two senior theatre majors are reflecting on their experiences in the NW theatre department.
Lucas Sander is double majored in theatre, along with writing and rhetoric. His primary role in the theatre department has been acting, but he has also been a playwright and a dramaturge, which for non-theatre friends, is basically an editor, advisor, researcher, etc. for a theatre or specific production.
Sander’s favorite production at NW would have been “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which was set to premiere in the black box of the DeWitt Theatre Arts in April. He was playing the charismatic and dramatic Don Armado and acting as dramaturge.
“The fabulous cast and incredible fun we got to have with the script was already showing in rehearsal,” Sander said.
Other experiences that Sander valued in his time in the department was playing Lloyd in last spring’s farcical comedy “Noises Off,” learning how to sew in the costume shop with Amber Huizenga and being dramaturge for “The Crucible.”
“My dramaturgy work, where I do research and provide context for the audience has been some of my best work,” he said.
Sander is still managing to tap into his creative spirit in these times of social-distancing. He and his friend and fellow, theatre enthusiast Alexander Lowry have begun a bi-weekly podcast titled “Zander and Sander.” The podcast goes live on YouTube every Monday and Friday at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time, and on it, the duo performs silly sketches, answer goofy questions, and mostly just poke fun at the crazy situation we’re all in.
Emily Linneweber is also a theatre major graduating this spring. Her primary work in theatre is directing, stage management and makeup design.
Like Sander, Linneweber’s favorite production would have been “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
“It was the best makeup design I’ve ever created and working as the assistant stage manager was such a fulfilling process,” she said.
In addition to “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Linneweber is also incredibly proud of her directing work. This past fall, she directed her favorite play, the absurdist drama “Endgame” by playwright Samuel Beckett. “Endgame” was staged in a local Orange City Episcopalian church, and Linneweber cast the show with current NW students, an alumnus and a professor.
“I challenged myself in ways I never imagined,” she said. “It was the capstone for my theatre career at Northwestern and an incredible learning experience. Sometimes I can’t believe I did it. I miss it so much.”
Linneweber also remembers fondly many smaller aspects of her time in the theatre department. Memories that have stood out to her over the past four years are the time when former theatre secretary Jen Sabo set up a “TPE Tea” in the lobby to welcome a playwright visiting from England and professor Drew Schmidt’s frequent tradition of reading stories from the book “Tales of the Kingdom.”
“In busy college life, it is always nice to have that rest of storytime, and Drew makes the depth of the stories come out in a much-needed way,” she said.
Linneweber also has many stories and memories with Dr. Robert Hubbard, whom she considers family.
“I have a long list of Dr. Bob quotes I’ve been collecting for three years now,” she said.
One of the most valuable lessons from her time at NW came from him: “Jesus still loves you if you say Macbeth in the theatre. The Holy Spirit will protect you from any curses you cause.”
To Linneweber, what makes the NW theatre department so special and unique is its commitment to and love for the art of storytelling.
“We find ways to tell stories in all the work we do and ways to tell the story of the Gospel within these stories,” she said.