How It All Began
When I was younger, I used to act out songs that my grandfather played. I also loved reading stories to children younger than me. I knew I wanted to act, but wasn’t sure how to get it started.
In third grade, I signed up for the school play but chose to work backstage since a boy I liked chose backstage. When the “princess” was out sick one day and the teacher asked me to step in for her during rehearsal, I was elated. I was doing fine until suddenly I was unable to say a particular word. I knew what it was, I had said it before many times, but suddenly it just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. The teacher asked me what was wrong. I was able to say “I don’t know” but I wasn’t able to say the word and continue. I just skipped the word and continued. My life-long struggle with stuttering was born on a stage.
York Catholic Marching Band (Photo by Henry Blatner)
As I went through school, my choices often revolved around stuttering. I did start to play the clarinet and was involved in concert band, jazz band, and marching band all through school. When my high school did a musical, I was concert mistress. I did start to find ways to improve my speech and gain enough confidence that by the end of high school, most people did not think of me as a stutterer.
After high school I went to Boston University, where I majored in mechanical engineering. I had every intention of becoming involved in the theatre groups there, but the heavy course load and working part-time prevented that. I was only at BU one year. A few years later I enrolled at Temple University as an undecided student. I took mostly theatre classes and fell in love with it. I changed my major to Theatre and threw myself into it, heart and soul. I was acting, without stuttering (mostly), and really enjoying it. One day I realized I was more concerned about HOW I would say something than IF I would say something.
Jennifer in “Electra” (the tall, silver Dioscuri on the left) 1999, Randall Theater, Temple University
The best part about the Temple Theatre program is that they require you to fulfill a contract each semester. This means you are required to work on a show in some capacity, whether that be costume running, props running, acting, ushering, etc. And, they encouraged that you don’t always do the same contract. This really prepares students for the future in that it gives them a good grounding in the collaborative nature of theatre. As I started doing some backstage work, I became really interested in what the stage manager does. I took the stage manager course and managed to get a contract as an Assistant Stage Manager for a main stage play. In my senior year at Temple, I was cast in a main stage play, I stage managed a main stage play, and I produced my own adaption of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Temple’s theatre program and faculty fully prepared me for working in theatre after college.
On set of “Twelfth Night” which I stage managed for director Bob Hedley. (2000)