In her four years at UW-Eau Claire, senior Lauren Edson has double-majored, studied abroad, completed internships, held leadership positions, acted in and stage managed theatre productions, and formed relationships to last a lifetime.
As a double major, Edson says that her two areas of study, theatre and psychology, have influenced each other. “I think my college experience has been different than a lot of theatre majors because I’m also a psychology major, and so I’ve been doing a lot of balancing… my psychology degree has really shaped the way I look at art and my art degree has shaped the way I look at psychology.” Currently, she is working on her psychology capstone. “My project for my capstone is creating research on color, color theory, color in design, color throughout history, and then creating an immersive web art experience with that research,” she says. “It’s really integrating the two degrees that I have.”
On top of her double major, Edson is also pursuing a certificate in Arts Administration, which requires an internship experience. Currently, she is the Public Programs intern for the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI and is excited to be able to give back to her hometown. “I get to serve the community that I grew up in which is fantastic,” Edson says. In this role, she has done marketing campaigns for one of their exhibits, coordinated volunteers for performances, and created educational kits for local students to develop an interest in theatre.
Edson says that the theatre program’s class requirements help prepare students for the professional world. “No matter if you want to be a technician or an administrator or an actor, you have to do a little of all of it, which I think is really important,” she says. “It makes you a well-rounded person in the theatre world. Even if you’re not going to do that stuff, you have a better appreciation for what you’re not doing. I know that if it wasn’t for the diversity in classes that I would’ve taken, I wouldn’t have been pursuing a career in arts administration.”
The relationships that theatre students form with their professors has helped Edson and many others find opportunities and learn new things. “Their passion for students doing stuff outside of the department like over the summer, I think that that has just helped a ton. It’s so important to have that kind of real-world experience.”
This summer, Edson will be a Production/Orchestra Services intern with the Santa Fe Opera, one of the most prestigious opera companies in the country. Not only did she get the job, but she was actually offered the position on the spot during her interview. “That was just the coolest feeling,” she says, “and it really validated me as a person, being able to get that job. Not validated; I felt confident, but it really was like, ‘wow, I can do theatre in the real world. This isn’t just a high school-turned-college passion.’”
After working at Santa Fe Opera, Edson plans to move to the Minneapolis area to pursue a career in arts administration. “My areas of interest in arts administration specifically are education and outreach, community involvement, marketing, public programs… just arts management in general.” Among her many goals is an idea to start an arts organization of her own. “I am really, really passionate about experience design and immersive art installations, whether that is a theatre piece or an arts installation that you can touch and you can experience, and maybe we’ll branch off into that.”