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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

URI ALUMNI IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Meet Alison Uhlfelder

URI Theatre I by Gail Henriques


URI Alumni Alison Uhlfelder
I had the pleasure of interviewing and reintroducing URI Theatre alum, Alison Uhlfelder, a 2005 graduate with a BFA in Acting and Costume Design. Alison’s education at URI helped prepare her for the outside world in making connections and sharing ideas. She credits theatre in helping her with public speaking, connecting with new people, and time management, which she explained is how a show is created, bringing people from different departments together to make something cohesive in a finite amount of time.

One of Alison’s favorite memories of the Theatre Department was spending time in the shop, singing show tunes and sewing alongside David Howard and Sally Tschantz-Dwyer. Alison said, “I learned so much about myself and my craft in that room.” She added, “And a lot of musical theatre history!” But, to that, she shared some advice and wants to pass it along to the current class of URI Theatre majors, “Take your classes and teachers seriously! Do your homework. Do not be “above” it, or you are only short-changing yourself!” She went on to say, “Do what makes you happy, but also realize that you chose one of the hardest professions ever to be successful at. It is going to be a lot harder than you think, and if you don’t want to struggle, kick, and fight-go do something else. You are in a little pond in college, and life is an ocean!”

A defining moment in Alison’s life was when she sewed costumes for “A Chorus Line” for her Intro to Costumes class, and then she got to see them on stage. It showed her how clothing can really transform a person. She knew from working on [that] show what her career path would be. She also remembers singing holiday songs to hospital patients, led by Paula McGlasson- and how it was really enriching to do something nice for the local community. Alison said, “Volunteering is now part of my daily life.”

Ms. Uhlfelder’s educational experience in theatre prepared her for a professional career, as she is presently working as the Assistant Costume Designer for “Pretty Little Liars”. She works with deadlines, which involves shooting a new episode every 7 days, and juggling 2 or even 3 episodes at once -- not to mention, the fittings, organizing, and very long hours of work. Alison stated, “I don’t think I’d be able to keep up if I wasn’t already running that way during college: tech week, last minute sewing, dance rehearsals, run-thru, homework and parties!” She continued to say, “My brain thrives on that kind of life, and being in the theatre department helped me become aware that I needed to be able to multitask like that in order to survive.”

Alison recommends that theatre students take full advantage of other aspects of theatre, such as stagecraft, set painting, costumes, and lighting. She said, “You become a more well-rounded (and frankly, easier to work with) person when you understand how much work everyone has to do in order to make the final product. It’s not just about the actors on the stage.”

She concluded the interview by saying, “I loved taking any extra singing elective classes because of the small class size- it gave me great feedback. Also, Stage Management was extremely valuable, and I use all of the skills I learned there every single day in my job now.”




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