Class of 2017

Photo of Clare Ruble

Clare Ruble

Director of Corporate Development and Events at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina.

“It’s hard to narrow it down to just one. That tiny tin shack in the back of the McAlister’s parking lot poured more love, support and confidence into me as a young artist and professional. From dance parties in the studio, very late nights in the computer lab and costume shop, smack talking at the dartboard, and performances on the main stage, that rickety old building was such a home. I could say memory after memory, but there is one day I remember that I think encompasses the spirit of The Playhouse. I was in Rhett’s stagecraft class and was painting my brick cloth. Because it was a normal, busy day, all the professors happened to be walking through. Each took the time to stop and talk to me and offer advice on either how to paint better (or really faster) or realize that not everything is precious or just see how I was doing with life in general. It was a memory I hold close to my heart because in that one afternoon I felt so many people care for me and my work. It was special. That’s because the Furman Playhouse is special.”

Photo of Kenzie Wynne

Kenzie Wynne

Recently completed her MFA at East 15 Acting School in London; currently working as a freelance actor and teaching artist, saving up money for a big move in a year to LA

“Ultimately, the Furman Theatre department gave me my tribe. It’s a wonderful, eclectic group of people who love one another deeply and you feel that the minute you walk into the building. The Furman Theatre Department gave me some of my best friends and confidants. Some of my biggest belly laughs. Some of my latest and longest nights. Some truly incredible and reliable mentors. Some good cries. All things that I feel a person can only experience once they’ve found their tribe. So yeah, that’s how the department shaped me. By giving me my people who make me feel like I can be brave.”

“I cannot narrow it down to only one memory. There are just too many. But a few that come to mind are sharing a dressing room with Clare during The Birthday Party. We had too much fun. Oh! Oh! Also when Clare and I just got “drunker” for that one part in Rumors every time we did it. Too fun. Directing Pat and Sarah in that scene from The Shadowbox was pretty fun too! What fab humans. Romeo & Juliet rehearsals with Baezar. The best. The tenderness during Women of Lockerbie… just the whole vibe in the room during those rehearsals. Brandishing a feather duster like a sword at Jay during Imaginary Invalid my freshman year. Having a really great shared audition moment with Lizzie for These Shining Lives. Late night life chats in the Annex. That time I was crying really hard over a boy and Derek spent time with me and made sure I was ok… also in the Annex. I swear that place sees us all at our most damn vulnerable. And ok so I guess this doesn’t count as the actual building itself but the Waffle House down the road is kinda like an adjacent limb to the Playhouse honestly and every 3am coffee there was just absolute gold. The late night shift at that place is a tv show waiting to happen and experiencing it with Dakota and Derek had me in tears laughing so hard.”

Photo of Haley Brown

Haley Brown

Graduated with degrees in Theatre Arts and Religion; after working as the assistant lighting coordinator at Lehigh University for 2 years, she returned to school to pursue an MFA in Theatrical Design with an emphasis in Lighting Design at University of Georgia Athens

“A unique aspect of Furman Theater is the emphasis the department places on encouraging students to design the main stage shows. These design opportunities focused my desire to have a professional career in the theater industry and having two artists in residence, both Furman Theater alumni, showed me that it was a possibility. Designing shows and having a mentor give feedback, paired with the design classes, not only honed my ability as a designer but also paved the path for professional work. Having four realized designs in my portfolio, as well as the theoretical designs from class was crucial in getting my first job out of school.”

“There is a tradition in the department where a person or a group of people are chosen to close a show forever at the end of strike by saying “strike is over.” It’s a big honor and one of my favorite memories is closing Durang/Durang with the other first time designers of that production. Strike in general at Furman is such a team building experience, and being able to close the show with these designers who worked so hard to bring magic to the production is something I won’t soon forget.”

Photo of Salvatore Donzella

Salvatore Donzella

Freelance actor in New York City

“Furman Theatre not only offered me amazing training in acting, it turned me into a well rounded theatre artist. I have used all the knowledge that I learned at Furman through out my entire grad schooling and now in NYC in the professional world. Also by participating in the plays at Furman it taught me professionalism. The director and all of the staff treated the student productions as professional shows. Because of this I knew how to act in a professional theatre. I soon realised I was one of few actors leaving college that knew how to conduct himself in a professional manner. I owe all of that to Furman Theatre.”

“On one of the days leading to graduation, I was hanging out in the costume shop with Margaret. She taught me how to make clothes pin dolls. I then made a clothes pin doll of myself as the Nurse from Romeo and Juliet (my final show at Furman). It might still be there! Check about the iron!”

Photo of Sam Nelson

Sam Nelson

Graduate Student at The University of Alabama studying Acting

“My experience as a student at Furman’s Theatre Arts department has developed my perspective as an artist, shaped the goals of my career, and inspired me to never stop learning.”

“Learning to juggle with Rhett and alan! Not only did they show me how to develop this particular new skill, they also taught me the best approach to learning any new skill in an effective way. I’ve learned many other skills by following their guidance on breaking it down to simplicity and always ending practice sessions on a small victory so I’ll come back to the next practice wanting to learn more!”

Photo of Sarah Cushman

Sarah Cushman

Teaching and acting in Chicago

“The Theatre Arts Department fundamentally changed the way I view success. I’ve opened myself to countless more opportunities and have been far more accepting of my career because of Furman Theatre.”

“Any late night spent in the annex with my favorite people! Especially when it involved Erin Barnett’s interpretive dancing.”

Photo of Lauren Girouard

Lauren Girouard

Theatre Arts and Neuroscience double major while at Furman; now has a Master’s degree in Drama Therapy from NYU and is an Experimental Psychology PhD student at the University of Louisville

“I’ve mentioned to my closest mentor during my time at Furman, Will Lowry, that I feel just as much like a designer now as I did while designing productions in New York or while at Furman. My masters had an obvious connection to both of my degrees, but I like that this time around it’s more subtle. While creating a study, I pay particularly close attention to how I want my stimuli to look and interact with one another. I use the same software I used as a Theatre Arts student: Audacity, Photoshop, etc. to create a product I’m proud of and that helps me to collect data the way that I need to.”

Favorite memory in The Playhouse? “Dakota Adams and I once stayed up all night to paint some signage as a sendoff to a well loved faculty member. That project, that time with a close friend, and its final product remains one of my dearest memories. There was something so thrilling in feeling comfortable in that space, like it was my home. The friendships and mentorships that I experienced at the playhouse definitely defined my experiences there.”