Drew Schmidt, associate professor of theatre arts, is a cultivator of God’s beauty. This is challenging work, but Schmidt is the right man for the job. Besides designing more than 40 shows at Northwestern College, Schmidt is a web, media and graphic designer for Hermosa Cove, a resort in Ocho Rio, Jamaica, and produces tutorials on his website, The Nerdy Professor. His vision for the theatre department is greater than coursework and production.
“The arts – painting, music, theatre, poetry, dance – cultivate a more holy culture; echoing God’s handiwork with beauty, or naming places of injustice and calling for redemption,” Schmidt said.
His expansive vision might be why many seem intimidated by theatre and the arts in general. Identity is found through and within art, so those who consider themselves non-artists find it challenging to place themselves in this so-called social category. Schmidt is trying to eliminate this stigma.
RUSH, a student-choreographed and directed dance concert, is a product of these efforts.
“RUSH is beautiful because one of its core values is that dance is for anyone and everyone. Everyone who auditions is cast, for the love and for the art of dance,” Schmidt said.
A successful theatre program requires successful relationships. Riley Rasmussen, a junior digital arts student-initiated major attested to Schmidt’s leadership.
“The weekend I moved onto campus, I went to his office and he gave me a bag of his camera equipment and said, ‘Go explore and create with any of this.’”
Because of Schmidt’s enthusiasm for learning, Rasmussen and students like her have been able to use their creative energy to glorify God with art.
Emily Hurley, a choreographer and dancer in RUSH, affirms the ever-growing culture of the theatre department. Hurley recognizes the gift Schmidt has of inspiring others to do the best they can and to focus on the bigger task at hand: the restoration.
“During practices, he would remind us why we were there creating and how it was beautiful to God. These talks always struck me because he was right… we are imitating [God’s] creativity,” Hurley said.
Besides his knowledge of theatre and speaking abilities, Schmidt is an energizer bunny. He seeks to push those around him to immerse themselves in the arts, while giving them the tools they need to be successful.
Karisa Meier, a senior theatre education and English teaching major, has worked with Schmidt for the past four years and is accustomed to the animated rhythms of his teaching style.
“Working with Drew is like running alongside a moving train, but Drew is inside the train throwing you shoes that help you keep up,” Meier said. “If those shoes don’t fit, he’ll throw you some different ones. And if you think you’re keeping up pretty well, Drew will speed the train up, but he’ll still toss you the tools you need to persevere.”
Schmidt is dogged that his vision for NW theatre be completed— even if that means thinking a few steps ahead of everyone else. He is practically a personification of RUSH itself.
“Drew brought energy and joy, focus and intent, and excellence and competition to our show,” Hurley added.
Schmidt notes that two of his favorite moments from the show were the performances of Sioux Center’s Robin’s School of Dance— “a slice of heaven on stage”— and the powerful message of the NEXT program’s dance.
“All the students sat on the edge of the stage and used sign language to echo the final lyrics [of For King and Country’s song “Relate”] … a beautiful call to love one another as a unified and diverse body.”
The little steps add up to one big dream— “making the world around us look more like the Kingdom of Heaven that it did yesterday,” Schmidt said.