School of Theatre alumni to present mentoring event for students

Networking, mentoring, the chance to learn directly from professionals in your industry -- it’s what all students want. And it’s what Penn State theater students will get, at the second annual “Behind the Curtain: A Backstage Pass to the Multidisciplinary Industry of Theatre,” on April 2–3, in the Theatre Building on the University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public. For more details, visit the event’s Facebook page.

In connection with the Student Programming Association, Jackie Cruz, known for her role of Flaca in “Orange is the New Black,” will give a keynote address about diversity in the entertainment industry at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, April 3, in the Playhouse Theatre.

“Behind the Curtain,” presented by the School of Theatre Alumni Group, was started to provide Penn State theater students with the opportunity to connect with alumni and other professionals in the industry in an intimate setting. The event includes two days of workshops and masterclasses taught by actors, directors, designers, casting agents and other professionals who are currently in the trenches. Topics include auditioning for musical theatre, scenic design, playwriting, working in Los Angeles, careers in arts administration and how to get an agent, among others.

Mike Karns, a 2011 bachelor of fine arts in theatre Penn State graduate and president of the School of Theatre Alumni Group, said one of the group’s primary goals is to create opportunities for alumni to not only connect with each other, but also with current students.

“We hope to provide a conduit for students to better transition them into the real world after graduation,” he said. “By establishing these connections early, we hope to provide students with a stronger set of connections, as well as real world knowledge as they begin planning their careers.”

According to Karns, “Behind the Curtain” is different from other mentoring opportunities because it’s a “concentrated” event with nearly 30 professionals spanning a myriad of theatre professions. “Through the unique structure of the weekend, and our timing with the School of Theatre’s production of ‘Hair,’ we are able to have tangible conversations about challenges in the school setting, and opportunities after graduation.”

“Behind the Curtain” 2016 has been organized by the School of Theatre Alumni Group and student representatives Benjamin Nissen and Carolyn Quinn. The weekend-long event is presented thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Student Programming Association and support from the College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Society and School of Theatre faculty and staff.

Last Updated March 23, 2016