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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

URI ALUMNI IN THE SPOT LIGHT

Give It Up for Robin Grady

URI Theatre | By Diana Savino


URI Alumni, Robin Grady
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing another URI Theatre alumni, Robin Grady, who graduated in 2004 with a BFA in stage management. Currently, Grady is the Production Stage Manager for Les Miserables at Great Lakes Theatre in Cleveland, her third Les Mis in the last year. Grady will also be starting as Calling Stage Manager at Trinity Rep for A Christmas Carol, starting in November.

Robin told us that URI Theatre helped her prepare for the outside world because there was a lot of practical experience involved throughout her years here. “We also got a taste of all aspects of theatre (except sound!) from the core curriculum, so it lets you understand the bigger picture.” Because URI Theatre offers a variety of courses, students are allowed to get experience in all fields, giving them a different outlook on their field.

Robin’s most defining moments here at URI were The Laramie Project, and Into the Woods, where she was able to stage-manage both productions. “Laramie Project was the RI premiere of a play that was based on a (at the time) very current event, and was intellectually very interesting (which is still a criteria I use in picking shows when I can). Into the Woods gave me my first taste of stage managing a huge musical, which I didn't do again for some 5 years after I graduated, but now that's the kind of show I make my career doing (in addition to three different productions of Les Mis, my past year has also included another production of Into the Woods).

URI Theatre is able to continue to give students wonderful opportunities to work on productions, which gives them a lot of experience that is necessary for the outside world. “It was all the practical experience. In most jobs in the theatre, you can only learn so much from a book. To really learn it, you have to do it.” Grady believes that URI gave her many opportunities to learn different aspects of the job that she couldn’t learn just from a book. Robin also worked at local theatres while she was still attending school to broaden her horizons. “In college, I remember stage management being more focused on the technical, and that was a great background, but the training in acting and directing from the core classes is also really helpful because professionally, it is the stage manager's job to maintain the show over the course of the run just as the director left it. I've found my job is more about managing people than about lights and sound, etc.”

While URI offers plenty of opportunities to work on productions and work outside of classes, the theatre department also offers many classes that are also necessary towards future jobs. “I took theatre management twice because the two instructors had different backgrounds and brought something different to the class (one was more about large theatres and unions, and the other small "theatre-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" organizations...both of which have helped me in my career). I loved stage combat, and while not immediately relevant to stage management, it has helped me maintain safety of fights in my shows on several occasions. And costume history. I loved costume history (and just about everything David Howard taught).”

The faculty and staff here at URI Theatre are so dedicated and helpful to all students that many alumni still keep in contact with them today. When asked, Robin responded that her favorite memories of the theatre department included work-study in the scene shop with Julius, and in the main office working with Bonnie. The bonds that are formed throughout student’s college careers are very strong and important in helping students develop and grow.

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