As students prepare for the end of the semester, the new Maryville College Theatre technical director, Jennifer Luck, is just beginning her time at Maryville College. Luck comes to MC with both high hopes and experience in her field. “My degree is in everything: scenic, costume and lighting design,” Luck said. Luck said that she is originally from Birmingham, Ala., where she worked in shows with the Birmingham Children’s Theater.
Luck’s first theatrical experience occurred before she entered high school. “And I never looked back,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do tech theater stuff by the time I graduated high school.” Luck said she enjoys theater as a subject because the learning is more hands-on. “I think our biggest goal is for the department to grow,” she said. Luck said that she encourages students to get involved with the theater program in a variety of ways.
“One of the great things about being in a small department is that everyone has to do a little of everything,” Luck said. “I encourage them to get as many experiences as possible.” These experiences also include graduate school. Luck said that every student is different, and that if a student wishes to pursue graduate school, she encourages them in the same way she would a student who did not want to pursue a graduate degree.
“We only have about two seniors that are graduating, and that still gives them a lot of time to figure out what they are interested in,” Luck said. “I want them to succeed, and I want to give them the tools to do that.” The tools Luck gives students are both figurative and literal. “Saws, no big deal,” she said. “Probably the most versatile tool I use is the drill.” Luck said that as part of her job as technical director is to make sure that students are safe while working in the scene shop. Part of this is achieved through cleaning and organizing, and the other part is through teaching students how to properly handle the tools that they use. “There is a wide range of experience, but that’s part of the fun,” Luck said. “So far, the students have been great. They are learning a lot, and they are teaching me a lot along the way.”
Luck is currently working with the two seniors in the theater program to help them complete their theses. Although these students are not focusing on technical theater, Luck is helping them by ensuring that the technical aspects of their shows are realized. This process is not unfamiliar to Luck, who had to complete a thesis of her own while in graduate school at the University of Kansas. While there, Luck had to design full scenic, costume and lighting for a show, as if the show would be produced. Her focus was on contemporary southern images, and she also had to write an explanatory portion of her thesis. She said that this experience, coupled with a liberal arts background, is making her feel more at ease and capable to help students as they embark on their own theses.
As the semester is winding down, Luck said that it is easier for her to settle into life at MC and venture beyond the Clayton Center. “I’m looking forward to taking time and being able to branch out and meet people on campus,” Luck said. “I don’t really feel like the new kid. I kind of feel like this is home already.” Luck said that she is optimistic about her new career at MC, and plans to continue encouraging students to pursue their dreams in theater.