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Recruiting the Next Big Breakout Star

November 2011

Somewhere on the high school stages of America is Ambrose's next breakout star, but how do we find them?

High school recruitment is crucial for the success of any theatre department, and for St. Ambrose it's especially important.

"The quality of Ambrose's theatre program is not something most people know about," said Amanda Kochanny '13, who attended the Iowa Thespian Festival last year as a recruiter. "It's just because we're so small and you don't hear a lot about us."

Luckily, Ambrose has some excellent ways of bringing in new students and stirring up interest. Every year, several theatre Work Study students and faculty attend the Iowa Thespian Festival and the Illinois High School Theatre festival. At each, high school students can talk with current students and get some information from the SAU Theatre booth. Also, a faculty member attends the group auditions held at these festivals.

From there, students are contacted with letters, phone calls, or can come visit Ambrose and check it out for themselves. This year, a few people from Admissions will be attending the festivals as well. In addition, faculty members attend local high school productions to check out the up and coming talent, and Department Chair, Dr. Corinne Johnson attends an annual luncheon with local directors and educators.               

It's not just high school talent that comes to Ambrose; many of our students are transfers or graduates from community colleges and other colleges. Tony Stratton '12 is a great example of the result of good recruitment.

"I actually met up with Cory and a few others at ACTF (the American College Theatre Festival) a few years back," says Stratton, who previously studied at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. "It was cool to talk with people in a chill setting and discover some more about Ambrose."

This year will be the first year Ambrose has a booth at the Festival's College Fair and will hopefully draw some interest from anyone looking to transfer.               

Some other things the department is trying out this year to get the word about Ambrose is a St. Ambrose Theatre Facebook page, as well as solidifying a relationship with Daniel Sheridan and the Davenport Junior Theatre, which he manages. Brooke Shelley '15 was a longtime player at Junior Theatre, and due to her involvement, she is currently one of the First Year theatre majors at Ambrose.               

If you are interested in helping with recruitment, Johnson says the best way to help is personal testimony.

"The best thing to do is spread the word in your hometown. We always hope that students are drawing from their high schools as much as they can," she says                

Hopefully, the new plans for recruitment, as well as the old will help us snag some stellar students for upcoming years. And make sure you're doing your part to inform potential students as well.

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