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A Reflection: Molly Conrad

May 2014

My experiences at St. Ambrose have been invaluable.

Coming in as a wee Freshman, I remember thinking that I would pick and choose shows with which to get involved based upon my availability and interest in the production. However, it wasn't long before I became a theatre addict, finding myself involved with the department in varied ways, including building life-size puppets, performing, sound designing and directing. The department has grown since my arrival, both in size and scope, and I have grown along with it.

My Senior year has been the best year yet in the Theatre Department, despite the huge change in the student body after last year's graduation. Just when I thought all the "good ones" were leaving, even more "good ones" came in. So many incredible freshmen arrived who I was able to bond with right off the bat. Directing the Fresh Face Revue, as well as acting as Lady of the Lake in Spamalot were definite highlights.

At Ambrose, I have found my passions and ways to incorporate them into other parts of my life. Directing taught me how to think critically. Because of my directing skills, I learned I cannot help but notice people's specific intentions and the active verbs they use when interacting in everyday situations. I can and do use this knowledge to communicate better with others on a daily basis. Also, being able to direct two full-length shows was such a wonderful opportunity. They were extremely rewarding projects that I will hold near and dear to my heart.

I have learned to commit to the choices I make as a director–and as a performer. I have noticed body language and how much it can tell about a person, which has helped me to express myself physically. I've had fun learning more about Shakespeare, clown and mask work, theatre history, and so much more. I have appreciated all that I've gained from each professor and have noticed that they seem to grow and learn from the students as well. That, to me, is a sign of a true artist.

SAU Theatre has helped produce successful actors, innovators and theatre technicians around the country. For example, Ambrose alumni Brian Hemesath won an Emmy for outstanding achievement in costume design/styling and has just been nominated for another. My fellow actor and former student, Anthony Stratton, won the Regional Irene Ryan Award for Best Actor of Region 5. Witnessing the success of other Ambrosians has been inspiring.

The effectiveness of the SAU theatre department is not due solely to the talent of the students but to the knowledge, positivity and dedication of the SAU staff. Each theatre faculty member I've worked with has not only taught me something about theatre, but also about how to be a good person. Instead of just feeling prepared for the theatre world, I feel better equipped in my interactions with people in everyday life and to face challenges in the work place as well.

Instead of thinking in black and white, artists see differently. And they see more than just a gray area, but all sorts of colors too. Ambrose has helped me paint my story with vibrant, fulfilling colors.

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