New Direction For Our New Director
By Lydia Prendergast
On October 18th, 2016, I was able to interview the new director of our theater department, Mrs. Brobst. Having experienced everything from singing on cruises to becoming a director, she kindly accepted and gave us a “behind the scenes” on her life!
Q: When did you decide to go into teaching and directing and why?
A: Long Story! So my mom was a teacher who taught social studies to high schoolers for years, and because of that I never wanted to be a teacher. My high school was huge and crazy, but we did have a great arts program and I always admired my director and teachers, who were my mentors growing up. I never really wanted to be a high school teacher though, I always wanted to be an actress or singer, which is what I ended up going to school for. I worked as a professional actress for years. But during all of that in my mid-20s, I was always teaching on the side. I was choreographing and teaching dance to little kids and acting classes to make money while I was auditioning for shows. I did enjoy teaching, but never wanted to make it a full time thing. When I was singing on cruise ships, on my 4th or 5th year of professionally performing, I was tired of always moving around, being broke, and living out of a suitcase. So I started thinking about settling down and teaching more. I have always loved choreographing and directing because it is so much fun to be the boss! So I went back to school and got my masters degree and teacher certification. I wanted to work in a theater and ended up falling in love with being with high schoolers and getting to see them be inspired and reach their potential. This has been the hardest job I’ve ever done, but by far the most satisfying. Getting to see you guys be creative and express yourselves and find that community of people has been so great.
Q: You said that you love teaching, what do you think of your job here so far?
A: I really love it. The people here are so nice and everyone has been so welcoming, even when I first got interviewed here. I had an opportunity to teach at a middle school but decided to turn it down and come here because I fell in love with the openness and kindness of this school. Everyone seems to be working together, while in a lot of school districts the teachers are stressed and there isn’t a lot of support. Doing my sample lesson was so much fun because the students gave me such a good response and I was able to collaborate well with them. I just wanted to be somewhere forever and I could really see myself in this community. All the kids here are so fun and positive, and I’m definitely glad I came here because I’m having a ball.
Q: You said that you had a lot of other jobs before this, could you tell us more about those?
A: I performed in children’s theater professionally for a long time, which was one of my main jobs as an actress. I used to work at a children’s theater called Adventure Theater, where I was in a touring production of Babes in Toyland that went all over the East Coast, among many other shows. I worked with Carnival Cruise Lines and was a singer, where I got to travel all over the Caribbean. I worked for a company called Imagination Stage where I was a dance teacher and choreographer for several years. One of my non-theater related jobs was being a Segway tour guide. I did tours around the capital on Segways, which was really fun. I also still work as a nanny, which I’ve done forever. I spent a lot of years at offices filing and printing things. I worked with this company called Little Maestros where we did fun activities with babies and their moms. Now I work at Watertown Theater where I do a playwriting class on the weekends with 7th graders. I used to work at the box office at my college too, so I mean it when I say I have had every job! When you’re in the arts, you have to cobble things together to make ends meet. So if you want to be an actress, that’s a snapshot of what you have to do sometimes.
Q: So moving on from that, directors in the past years have made cuts in the cast, why did you choose not to do that?
A: I think it’s counterproductive to what you are trying to do. My goal is not professional theater. This is educational theater and anybody who wants to be in theater should be allowed to be, especially at this age when it can be so transformative in your life. Educational theater is not a place for people to be excluded. Ultimately, theater is a community and a family. To me, the bigger the family, the better. We should always be welcoming and embracing people who want to be apart of it and you should never be turning people away. Anyone can be anything regardless of talent, and here it is more important to me that you have good work ethic. I would be quicker to cut somebody based on their attitude than based on their talent. I always say that theater skills equal life skills. Everything you need to be a successful human is taught here, which is what I’m trying to teach. Everything I want to do in the program requires more people. I need a lot of people on stage for people to buy tickets. My goal is to have the whole school see our shows. I think it’s hard enough to get up in front of a group of people and audition, so I want to reward students by giving everyone a fun part. I want to encourage people to come and take risks because they will get in. All I need is for you to have a personality, show up, have a good attitude, and we will make it work.
Q: What upcoming activities do you have planned for this year in drama club?
A: The next thing we’re doing is the fall play, which is the 17th, 18th, and 19th of November. It’s called Epic Proportions and is a super funny, established play that high schools often do because the cast is so flexible. I thought it would be the perfect play for this year because I didn’t know how many kids I was going to get and what the interest level was going to be. It isn’t a very long show but our set and costumes are going to be amazing. It will be a great way to kick off the year. And then we have the musical in March! I have no idea what it’s going to be, but it will feature a lot of dancing! And then the Cabaret in the spring, which is another musical event for our singers in the house to sing some solos and for our seniors to have a way to say goodbye to their time here. I also want to start doing some workshops with you guys, for those that are interested. This is definitely a growth year for me, so I haven’t really set anything in stone. We are going to become a part of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, which has a statewide theater competition every year where you take a one act play to a school for a day long festival where each school shows their play. Three theater professionals give you feedback and based on those groups, you move onto the semifinals and then finals! If you get to the finals, you get to perform at the Convention Center in Boston. This year we are going to hopefully go and see one of the festivals. That’s a huge thing I want to build into our program in these coming years as a way to get our name out there and bond as a group.
Thank you so much to Mrs.Brobst for letting me interview her! Here’s to a great year in Drama Club!