Moving, Commencement and Disney Day

It’s been a busy time at the School of Dramatic Arts this week. Amidst finals, portfolio reviews and the packing of our offices in the beloved CWT building (doomed to demolition next week),  may we have a moment of silence, please.

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Our current office in the Childs Way Two building.

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Our soon to be renovated office.

And next, a moment of anticipation; do you feel the little frisson of expectation in the space which is to be our new office? Imagine, if you will, from the before photo at right, the sheer beauty of that second tier of lights, carpet on the floor, fresh paint on the walls; we will even have a blue accent wall  behind our desks. It really is exciting. You know me, any excuse to renovate.

Our colleagues from CWT will be scattering to various buildings on and just off campus. The upstairs hallway in the building has been cluttered with the tidy boxes holding all our belongings, the stray student or two wandering by to say hi to their professors, their chatter obliterated by the sound of packing tape screeching off its roll, the professors wild-eyed with the upheaval. (Not really wild-eyed; we are far to used to the itinerant lifestyle to be thrown by a little thing like having our offices moved.)

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Chairs awaiting Thornton School of Music Commencement.

With our faculty and staff moving day looming on Monday, the students are also beginning to load their belongings into the large rolling bins. The party vendors have rolled onto campus and have set up literally thousands of commencement chairs. They undulate across the green lawns, expectantly awaiting to seat proud family members who will travel to campus on Friday to cheer on their children during their commencement ceremonies. There is forecasted rain for Friday, an 80% chance that we will get the long needed rain that we’ve been fantasizing all through the ridiculously unseasonal warm winter. Now that we want to wear our summer dresses and attend commencement, it’s due to pour. Perfect.

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Current stage management students listen to Melissa Trupp, ’10

This week, we had an entertaining visit by one of our alums, Melissa Trupp, who graduated five years ago from our BFA Stage Management program. She shared her early career trajectory with a group of our current Stage Management students.

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Melissa Trupp, BFA SM ’10 has become a leader through her work with the Disney organizations.

She spent an hour and a half with the stage management students, regaling them about her work both at Disneyland, and on the Disney Cruise ships which she has called home for the past two years.  It was fascinating to hear about the complexity of the shows, and the logistics of the day to day life aboard the ships. The students and I were rapt. I couldn’t resist asking her if it was “the Love Boat.” My students laughed, but I know they all wanted to ask but didn’t have the courage. If I have tried to teach them one thing, it’s that there are no stupid questions; I model that every time I get the chance.

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SDA students and staff prepare for the procession of graduates.

She let us peek at her calling script (sorry, Melissa, there’s probably a disclosure agreement I’ve just blown, endangering  your job). I promise that no one had their cameras out except me, and just to take these pictures of our meeting.

Then, today we had our Commencement rehearsal at the Bing. Of course, the School of Dramatic Arts would have a tech rehearsal prior to its Commencement. Blocking, cueing, lighting and sound, and understudies. I stand in for the Dean and use the exercise to bid each of the students farewell.  Trust me, our rehearsal bears little resemblance to the final show, an energy-filled celebration with a cheering audience. But we rehearse it just so we get it perfect. This year I felt like we were graduating the freshman class. As I mock-handed them their diplomas, I said more than once, I’m afraid:

Wait. Didn’t you just get here last fall?

No, Els, I’ve been here four years.

How the heck did that happen?

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Wrapped chairs awaiting their party tomorrow on the PED lawn.

Slogging through the rain to get there, I took this picture of someone’s post-Commencement party zone, looking more like a country graveyard, graves pinwheeling across the PED lawn. Outside right now there is lightning and thunder. I can hear the tread of the cars through the wet streets below.  Hopefully it will finish by morning and we will have a glistening green Disney dream campus with which to greet our students’ parents. Bon voyage to another fine class of theatrical practitioners! We wish you well and urge you to come back to share your experiences with the students you’ve left behind.

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