Jen Pollard’s new office used to belong to the adviser she had as a student at McPherson College.
In her new role as a professor of technical theater, she will teach classes in stage makeup and stagecraft, and take on the role of technical director for the college’s productions.
“It’s a little bit surreal,” Pollard said. “Even people I haven’t seen in 20 years have stopped me in Dillon’s and said, ‘I heard you’re back and I cant’ wait to see what you do.’ “
Pollard said she hopes her enthusiasm for theater will contribute to a strong department and bring it even more esteem.
“I have about a million plays that I’ve always wanted to do,” Pollard said.
A McPherson native, Pollard graduated from McPherson College in 2000 and went on to Michigan State University to earn her master’s in theater. She then moved to London and worked at such prestigious venues as The Old Vic theater, Southbank Centre and Shakespeare’s Globe.
The 10 years she worked in the front of house and her experience at Shakespeare’s Globe were formative ones.
“It’s like nowhere else in the world, it’s amazing and crazy and vibrant,” Pollard said.
Pollard admitted to being a fan of Shakespeare’s work from a young age.
“I was the kid who, when I was 12, read three or four plays a day during the summer,” Pollard said.
Not only did Pollard add to her resume while in England, she also met and married her husband there. The pair moved back to McPherson two years ago when an opportunity arose for him to teach digital media at McPherson College.
The couple has a 4-year-old son, and while Pollard said she was happy to take time off from the rigors of professional theater, she is also glad to jump back into the field — especially since she always dreamed of eventually becoming a professor.
“It’s just the perfect way to get to do (theater) and also encourage others to do it,” Pollard said.
While she realizes she has big shoes to fill, Pollard also said she wants to bring her knowledge of technical theater into play at the department.
“I think it’s a great time to introduce some of the technology that has just come about in the last five to 10 years,” Pollard said.
Given the cooperative nature of theater, Pollard is eager to join forces with her students and the faculty of other departments at McPherson College to produce shows.
“I’m so excited to be here and to be working with the students; seeing what we come up with...I’m very much a collaborative artist,” Pollard said.
Teaching skills in technical theater that students can use in other fields will further McPherson College’s mission to develop “whole people,” Pollard said.
“I just love when you give (students) an idea and they go with it and build on top of it,” Pollard said.
Often, students who are not theater majors sign up to earn one hour of credit by working in a backstage role; taking part graphic design, costuming or set building.
“We have so many really talented departments on campus, why not showcase what they are doing,” Pollard said.
Whether a student is studying theater, history or auto restoration, there is a role they can play in McPherson College’s productions.
“That’s one thing I like about this campus — it’s not elitist,” Pollard said. “Anybody can audition for a show; anybody can get involved.”
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.