Grace Madden, sophomore stage management major, seems just like any other student in Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts — someone whose life is mostly involved around putting on productions. While this is a time-consuming task, she still manages to fuel her passion for travel in the process.
by Ava Rosslein
Throughout the course of her life Madden has traveled to a total of six different countries and currently studies four different languages: Spanish, Italian, French and German. Additionally, Madden is taking Japanese for the first time this semester.
Madden finds joy in being able to interact with people in another language. While in Italy, she was buying something in a shop around the corner from the Vatican and was able to hold an entire conversation with the shop steward in Italian.
“It’s my language nerd mixed with my travel nerd,” Madden said.
During her time in London, Madden got to tour the Olympic park a week and a half before the game began that summer. She said it was cool to later see the Olympics on TV.
Even with experiencing the excitement of London before the Olympic games, Madden said that Paris and Madrid are her two favorite places to travel.
Despite all the places she has been able to see, Vienna is on her agenda for study abroad, some time in her junior year. Madden said she is looking forward to her trip to Vienna because it’s a great cultural and artistic city, which is desirable for students studying in the Conservatory.
But it wasn’t until she was in high school that Madden began to fall in love with theatre. Madden originally aspired to be an actress but didn’t get cast in many shows. That’s when Madden began working backstage and found out about stage management.
“Theatre is such a different media than any other way that you have to engage as a public forum. You can make a movie, but then once you’ve made it, you’ve made it and you can’t change the movie. You can write a song and put it out there and you can make a TV show, but there is nothing like theatre,” Madden said.
Madden’s typical day when she is working on a show includes: university classes in the morning, lunch break, Conservatory classes in the afternoon between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m., and rehearsals between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. Madden said the longs days and hours are perceived as stressful because it fits what the real work is like.
Since students in the Conservatory spend so much time together working on productions, they are not often seen with other students outside of the theatre program. Madden, however, says she enjoys the tight knit atmosphere.
“I love it,” Madden said. “It’s like having a family. People that are in my university classes, I don’t hang out with them as much, but it’s good to have a diverse group of friends. But it’s also really great to have a Conservatory student that you know has your back no matter what.”
Madden said one of the things she likes most about the Conservatory is the teamwork put in by everyone involved.
“I love that it’s such a collaboration,” Madden said. “Even in a one woman show. Yeah, you’ve got the actress who is technically the only person that the audience sees, but there is so much that goes into it and everyone truly has a part to play.”
Although it is no secret that stage management is where her deepest passion lies, in the future, it is her goal to combine two of her loves. Madden wants to be able to work in a theatre in a different country, despite having no specific plan.
“Because I’ve been so lucky to be able to pursue this as my career path, that is my free time,” Madden said. “It’s so great to practice what you’re really passionate about.”