Eric Busse (Class of 2014)
After four years as a student in the UWL Department of Theatre Arts, I can say with steadfast assurance that I am not the person I thought I would be after four years of undergraduate study. I am not the scholar, not the artist, not the actor that I would have conjured up in the futuristic daydreams of my younger years. Indeed, I have experienced possibilities and goodness extending beyond anything I could have dreamed prior to my arrival here. This department fosters more than artistry, more than performance ability, more than scholarship; it fosters genuine engagement with all of the brilliance that surrounds the human condition. This department harnesses the potent energy of performance and research, of loving-kindness and of risk in the creation of performers who can do far more than memorize an 8-count and belt 16-bars (although we do that quite well too). UWL is a training-ground for students who want to impact the word through their work, whatever manifestation that may take. As a student here, you are swimming in an ocean of possibilities and encouragement.
Sam Ellingson (Class of 2002)
UWL Theatre not only provided me with an incredibly broad based theatre education, but also afforded me the opportunity to design in several productions, work in the costume and scene shops, and also perform in several shows. The faculty and staff of the department truly invest their time in the future of their students. They helped me to realize my potential in theatre. Not only did they provide me with a great education, they shared with me their passion for the arts and made me part of the department family.
Justin Cooke (Class of 2014)
Before I discovered UW-La Crosse I was all set to study Communications in Iowa…am I glad fate intervened. The Theatre Department at UWL provided me with much more than opportunities to learn and perform both in the classroom and on the stage—it provided an education, friendships, and a second family that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The faculty care about the well-being and success of every student and strive towards helping each one become a well-rounded, educated artist, while at the same time allowing each individual the chance to shape and create the education they receive. With a program of diverse courses on campus and opportunities to experience the world off-campus first-hand, the UW-La Crosse Theatre Department provides an intimate environment where students can craft their artistry, receive a well-rounded liberal arts education, and create a memorable experience that will last a lifetime, all set to a backdrop of the Mississippi River, the beautiful bluffs, and a community that will always feel like home. The UWL Theatre Department faculty challenged me and cared for me both as a performer and an individual, helping me become the person I am today by providing me with an experience that I will be forever grateful for.
Jason Knox (Class of 2005)
The opportunities that have come my way due to my involvement in theatre at UWL have literally changed the direction of my life. I was not a theatre student, but on a whim I volunteered to help create some sound effects for their production of A Christmas Carol. That positive experience led to more involvement in the theatre program as a musician and sound designer, and just over a year later, I was approached by Purdue University and offered a graduate assistantship in theatrical sound design – something which never would have come my way if not for the faculty at UWL encouraging me to become involved with the regional theatre festival.
Although I was never an “official” student of the theatre department, I feel as if I’ve learned an immense amount simply from working on productions at UWL. The many conversations I’ve had with directors, designers, stage managers, and actors have definitely been an education not only how to create a great experience for the audience, but also the process of interacting with the cast and crew in a constructive fashion. The atmosphere created by the faculty, staff and students in the UWL theatre department is a wonderful mixture of ambition, commitment to quality, teamwork, and good humor. It’s that atmosphere which has kept me coming down their hallway for two years looking for ways to stay involved. And thanks to their encouragement and the opportunities they’ve given me, I look forward to continuing down a path toward what I hope will be a creatively fulfilling career. It would be an understatement to say that I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of the UWL theatre program.
Jennie (Knoebel) Germain (Class of 2002)
I am thankful for my experience at the UWL Theatre Department. Both the theoretical and practical education I received has been invaluable as I work towards my Master’s in Arts Management at the University of Minnesota. Due to the department’s size and level of faculty-student collaborations, I was able to get a wide variety of hands-on experience that ultimately helped me to get accepted into grad school. The faculty members were all extremely supportive and knowledgeable. Their concern for students’ success has shown through not only during my time there, but has continued as I pursue a career in the arts.
Jenna Bolland (Class of 2008)
I had many wonderful opportunities to be involved with the theatre department at UW-La Crosse, including working on productions starting my freshman year, participating in the American College Theatre Festival, and starting a chapter of APO with my friends. I received great support from the department when I had two wonderful internships at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, where I have been employed since 2006.
Matt Burgos (Class of 2003)
After observing the program structures (as a student and teacher) of a variety of universities around the country, I can confidently say the experience at UWL is truly unique amongst theatre programs. The opportunities available to explore the performance, design and administrative crafts of the theatre, combined with a knowledgeable and extremely nurturing faculty make UWL one of the single most effective undergraduate theatre arts training programs in the country. For those that enjoy making their own opportunities and creating their own work, UWL is the perfect place to lay a groundwork for your future as an artist. I will always recommend my alma mater without reservation.
Sean Kelley (Class of 1981)
I owe a ton of gratitude to UWL Theatre and all it taught me. I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I am today if it weren't for those La Crosse days. My years at La Crosse were some of the most important years of my life. I feel like we worked non-stop on productions. It taught me to be a THEATRE ARTIST, not just an actor or a director. We all work in every aspect of the theatre and productions. I would have torn tickets if it needed to be done. We were taught the importance of COLLABORATION. We all worked together to create art. It was shared, the blood, sweat and tears...and the celebration. The people that I worked with in those days are still some of my closest associates and friends. We all often get together, when possible, in the Coulee Region and love sharing the memories. Some of us still manage to collaborate on projects around the country.
Abby (Spiegelhoff) Galstad (Class of 2007)
Deciding to go to UW-La Crosse was the best decision that I have ever made. I was a music major, but it wasn't long before I became a musical theater major. The program was very new, but with the education I got from both the Music and Theater departments, I fell even more in love with performing. The faculty is the best you could ask for. There is a great variety in teaching styles and techniques. They were always there to support and help me. I was able to study abroad for a semester and come back and pick up right where I left off. To summarize, they allowed me to grow and became family and friends along the way. I am forever grateful to my "family" at La Crosse, and I have yet to find anything that even compares. I am currently living in Los Angeles pursuing my Masters of Fine Arts in Acting at UCLA. I still call and e-mail my professors from UWL for help and advice, and I wouldn't be where I am without them. UWL is a great school and anyone would be lucky to go there.
Corey Sorenson (Class of 2003)
The greatest thing for me about being in the theatre department at UWL was the access I had to getting on stage. It's a close-knit community with opportunities for everyone. I really became an integral member of the department and the theatre season, rather than just being a student there. Also, La Crosse is a beautiful, comfortable place to learn and grown in. My education at UWL really prepared me to take the next step in my career. I am now a working actor with major regional, New York theatre, and television credits.
Mary Wallin (Class of 2007)
You guys brought me into a family with no hesitation, no prior judgments. You made me feel comfortable and that’s where I wanted to be. Every one of you encouraged and let me do things I had never done before. The experience and knowledge I have gained from the technical aspects from Ron and Billy will follow me throughout the years and will come in handy a lot, I imagine. I got to explore my creativity in costuming and makeup and discovered it’s not my strong point. Beth let me learn all the background information and knowledge about people and plays, knowledge I welcome. I gained a lot of personal knowledge regarding my own capabilities of expression through classes with Mary and Walter. From Krista, I learned how hard it is to run a department and she is damn good at her job. But most of all, all of you, were my friends. I came here nervous, naïve and lazy. I am leaving with confidence, knowledge, and motivation and I owe most of that to this theatre department. Thank you very much for just being who you are.
Carissa Huizenga (Class of 2005)
When I became a theatre major, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I feel incredibly spoiled by the nurturing, family-like department that I am proud to call myself of. I feel blessed to have been able to at least try nearly every aspect of theatrical production. I’ve received so much support and guidance throughout the years that I do not feel I could have gotten anywhere else. The only problem…no graduate program will ever be able to live up to the standards I now have concerning a theatrically educational environment.
Sam Albertsen (Class of 2007)
The best thing I tell anyone, about my time in the theatre department, is the experience. In my opinion, the best way to learn and to grow as a performer is to simply do it and the UWL theatre department gave me all the opportunities to do that. I am so thankful for them, for all they have done for me. Not only did I gain so much knowledge and experience, but I gained so many great friendships. You can't ask for a better faculty. They make you feel wanted and a part of something special that nobody else will ever have. I am proud to be a UWL Theatre Department alumni, and I will cherish all those memories until the day I die.