Taylor Austin, a senior in high school, is a double major in theater and communication. Austin has always loved the stage and has been involved in all the shows offered both at her high school and here at Valparaiso University. On campus, Austin is the Public Relations Chair of Alpha Psi Omega, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, she works in the provost’s office as a student aide, and is part of the OA team (orientation assistant ). Austin will move in July to be part of the Disney College program in Florida and considers theater and the arts his lifelong passion.
She realized her innate love and talent for the stage after being cast in the first show of her freshman year of high school.
“I did, and I was like one of the two freshmen in the first production, and I said [to myself]”Mm, I think I’m gonna do this forever now,” Austin said.
Entering college as a theater and psychology major, Austin initially thought she would go into theater therapy – the combining of science and therapeutic techniques with elements of theater to support patients, similar to music therapy – but she quickly discovered new career goals that now bring her more joy and anticipation for the future.
“I moved into acting and communications and realized I wanted to go down the acting route more and become a stage manager,” Austin said. “The stage manager is kind of like the director’s right-hand man and you call the shows, and you take all the notes and make sure the communication between the actors and the crew is good.”
His first stage management experience came after he arrived at Valpo; after contacting the production manager in the fall of her freshman year, she got the position of assistant stage manager. She said she owes a lot to her mentor, Dr. Lee Orchard, for teaching her the ins and outs of stage management.
“He’s one of my greatest mentors I’ve ever had, and my greatest mentor here. he taught me everything I needed to know about directing, stage management, acting — I learned so much from him,” Austin said.
As well as being involved in stage management here at Valpo for around nine different productions, Taylor also has extensive experience working in the Stage Shop.
“I also work in the stage studio, which builds and paints the sets; I do most of the painting,” Austin said. “Lots of detail work — I did masonry, floor work and tiling and all that stuff… I can see it from start to finish; It’s so much fun. In fact, I’ve built and worked on every show since my freshman year.
She also starred in many other productions, culminating in “One Slight Hitch” which premiered on April 28 at the University Theater in Valparaiso.
“More recently, ‘One Slight Hitch’ has been, I think, my favorite production I’ve been involved in; it was so much fun, it was so much fun being on stage – which I really miss doing that with COVID – so having my first real audience after COVID was the most memorable thing for me,” Austin said. . “It was the perfect ending to my book here at Valpo.”
As for the theater community here in Valpo, Austin loves spending time with them and she knows the close relationships she has formed here will last a lifetime.
“We’re just this tight-knit community. I would honestly say they are my family. We do everything together, practically, and I could never complain about that; I love spending all day with them,” Austin said. “You have this massive community of people who all understand what you’re going through and are there to support you…You’ll definitely have connections – I know they’ll all be at my wedding – connections that I’m going to have forever.
In terms of what the whole theater experience here in Valpo has been like for her, she never lets herself forget the impact this place has had on her.
“I always take a minute to myself before the show, like after I’m done getting ready, or when I start getting ready for rehearsal, I sit down and enjoy the space,” said Austin. “Almost just me looking around the college theater and thanking the space for what it’s done for us.”
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