In just 16 days I’ll be leaving Westminster College behind to start my life in the real world. A life away from New Wilmington, my friends here, and most unfortunate of all Beeghly Theatre.
Upon entering Beeghly for the first time five years ago, I would have never been able to predict the experiences I was going to have in my time here. I was a shy and loud high school senior who knew she wanted to major in theatre, but wasn’t quite sure what she was getting into.
When I started classes in late August of 2009 (my freshman year) I had no idea what I was in for. I had never been involved with my high school theatre productions and didn’t have a clue about what it really meant to work in a theatre. But after being thrown head first into a work study position in the shop and thrust into being on stage crew for Rabbit Hole, I understood and it made me love theatre more than I already did.
Following Rabbit Hole I was hooked. Beeghly Theater soon turned from a place to work into my home; and after working on almost every show since, I have credits in 13 out of 14 Theatre Westminster productions, along with experience managing the box office and costume shop. All along the way I have gained friends, met people who changed my life, made memories, and learned a lot.
My credits with Theatre Westminster include Rabbit Hole (Stage Crew), Premium (Understudy), The Misanthrope (Sound Designer), A Little Night Music (Asst. Costumer/Wardrobe), Red Herring (Sound Designer), Crimes of the Heart (Lenny), Born Yesterday (Asst. Costume Design), Wonder of the World (Asst. Stage Manager), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Co-Costume Design), As You Like It (Audrey), The Drowsy Chaperone (Asst. Costumer/Wardrobe), Book of Days (Costumer), and finally Stop Kiss (Costume Designer).
When Stop Kiss ended, reality struck. I was no longer going to be entering Beeghly on a daily basis and it made me think about what I want to do for the rest of my life with a theatre degree. Do I truly want to teach or direct like I always thought I did? Am I even ready to make a decision like that without more experience?
It was not until after a talk I had with Dr. Sandra Webster about costume design at the Undergraduate Research & Arts Celebration (URAC) that I was able to make a decision, which is this. I have decided to make it my goal to go to graduate school and get my MFA in Theatre for Costume Design.
I have been pondering over what I would do in grad school for a few years. But the talk with Dr. Webster and my overall presentation experience at URAC made me see how dedicated to and in love I am with costume design. And when passion for something is that strong there is no way you can walk away from it, otherwise your life can never be fulfilled.
I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, whether we like it or not. And I’m not sure why costume design came into my life, but I’m glad it did.
I haven’t talked about this decision to a lot of people yet, so I bet it’s a bit of a surprise for some of you readers. But I am very excited to be able to share my decision. And without the help and guidance of Scott Mackenzie, Terry Jachimiak, Gianni Downs, Paula Ferguson, Lester Malizia, Peggy Hanna, and a few others who have come in and out of my life over the last four years I wouldn’t have been able to see my talents clearly and gain so much knowledge. I will never be able to thank them enough for all they have done.
I’m not going straight into graduate school because I don’t think I’m quite ready. Instead I’m taking a year or two off to improve my drawing, painting, and sewing skills and get some real world experience. But you best believe that when I get into a graduate program I am going to be better than ever, and ready to conquer any obstacles thrown my way.
So readers, the day may come when you see my name attached to award winning costume designs (one can only dream, right?), or it may not. But even if I’m 50 years old and teaching college students I’ll have a smile on my face. Because I’m still going to be making theatre and that’s all I have ever wanted to do.
Courtney L. Jackson