A Lot of Hats: Maria Shoop '13, MFACW '14 and The Drama Club

 The Cast of  Play On!

The Cast of Play On!

“Theatre at Chatham is full of self-starters,” says Maria Shoop ‘13, MFACW ’14. She should know. While a student at Chatham, Shoop founded the Drama Club in 2011 to keep the theatre spirit going. Now she’s back as an adjunct professor of drama, working again with the Chatham Drama Club, and teaching a class in Performance and Production.  

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 “The Drama Club has been very much student led, student driven,” Shoop says. “They’ve been able to put on one or two shows a semester, shows like Little Shop of Horrors, Clue, even Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’m proud of the students’ perseverance here.” Shoop’s current class put together Play On!, covering every single step in putting on a show. Next semester, she’s teaching Acting I.

“At a small school you have to wear a lot of hats, and that provides a lot of experience doing real, valuable work.”

Shoop majored in both theatre and creative writing; she finds the two studies complementary. “It’s all storytelling,” she says, “and stories are a way we pass on culture and identity, how we relate to each other. Rent changed the world. Hamilton changed the world. A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is helping with autism awareness.”

Theatre is also valuable on a personal level, Shoop stresses. “It teaches time management, leadership, public speaking, math, teamwork. It blends beautifully with creative writing, history, English. Students who major in interior architecture often work on set design.” But even if drama is a departure from one’s normal studies, Shoop notes that it’s often a creative release for math and science majors.

When we say it’s for everybody, we mean everybody.”

In the case of the most recent production Play On!, Shoop shared directing duties with a student. Over the course of the production, the student was given more responsibility for directing duties. In Play On!, a theatre group tries to put on a play in spite of continual rewrites made by the controlling author. This evening, Maria Shoop was anything but controlling, she wore a smart all-black outfit that I hadn’t noticed until she mentioned it: “I usually don’t dress in all black. But tonight I’m doubling as a runner for the show.” Runners are backstage crew members who move the set and set up lighting as the show goes on. It’s their job to be as invisible as possible. “We all wear a lot of hats here!” 

If you are interested in theatre at Chatham, email Maria Shoop at m.shoop@chatham.edu or message the Chatham University Drama Club on Facebook.