Welcome back to school, everyone! The school year has begun again, and with it, the theatre season. For our first First-Year Focus of the school year, the attention is on transfer student, Abbie Carpenter.
Abbie transferred from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where she was involved in a variety of plays. Now, the SAU Theatre Department is lucky to have her, and she has already thrown herself wholeheartedly into the program and is cast in the first main stage show, Rumors, playing Cookie Cusack, the eclectic and eccentric cooking show host.
Here's what Abbie had to say about her time in theatre, at Simpson, at Davenport Junior Theatre, and her future in theatre:
At what age did you start theatre, and why did you decide to continue? Was there a certain moment or show that made you realize you wanted to continue doing theatre?
"I've been involved in theatre since I was eight years old, thanks to Davenport Junior Theatre. I got "bit by the acting bug" when I saw a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I asked my mom to sign me up for classes and started auditioning for their main stage shows. My first play was James and the Giant Peach, so that show will always hold a special place in my heart! I always knew deep down that I wanted theatre to be my career. However, I definitely tried to do something "more practical" first, so I did not start college as a Theatre major. However, it only took me a semester to realize I was denying myself what I really wanted to be doing!"
What are some of your favorite productions or theatre-related activities that you've been involved with in the past? What do you hope to be involved with in the future?
One my favorite productions I've been involved with would be The Jungle Book at Davenport Junior Theatre because it was done in the style of Commedia Dell'arte. I got to learn all about developing a character and performing with a mask, which was awesome. Another that I have loved was These Shining Lives at Simpson College. It tells the story of girls who painted radium watches in the 1920s and died from the radium poisoning. I played the role of Pearl. It was such an important story that had heart and humor even in the face of tragedy, so it was a great experience. I don't know that I have any specific shows I'm hoping for in the future here, but I do hope to get to continue to develop my acting skills through the opportunity to play a variety of different kinds of roles!
Why did you choose St. Ambrose? Anything specific that led to your transfer?
I chose St. Ambrose for several reasons. The first is that I know so many fantastic adults who have come out of this program who are doing amazing things in the field of theatre and otherwise now (Daniel and Jessica Sheridan, Jessica Taylor, Steph Delacey - to name a couple role models of mine). I knew this program had a large part in making them who they are today, and I wanted that experience, too!
Furthermore, the opportunities to student direct are very appealing to me and something I hope, in time, that I'm able to do!
Lastly, being in my hometown is very nice. I get to keep teaching at Davenport Junior Theatre, and I'm close to my family, which is awesome because it's my brother's senior year. I'm happy I get to be close by for all the excitement that comes with that.
What is your favorite show, and why?
My favorite musical currently is Something's Rotten or Dear Evan Hansen (basic, but true!). Some of my favorite plays are Rabbit Hole, Time Stands Still, Buried Child and Rumors (so I'm PUMPED to get to work on it this fall!!).
What would your dream job be?
My dream career would be to perform and/or direct professionally for a while and then to be in an administrative position for a children's theatre and hopefully direct and teach there as well. Children's theatre is obviously important to me, and I know I want it to be part of my professional career.
That's it for the first First-Year Focus! What a fantastic actress to focus on! The department is very excited to have Carpenter join SAU for the remainder of her time in school.
The SAU Theatre Department wishes her the best of luck. If you'd like to come support Abbie and the Theatre Department, make sure to come see Rumors!
What is your dream role? Ursula from The Little Mermaid! I have a villain/old woman type casting history, but she is one I would LOVE to play.