Final Reflection with Claire Heronemus ‘17
By Madison Kobe ‘18
It’s the first full week of summer and we are all doing our own thing: some are on vacation while some are at home recovering from finals; some are traveling while some are starting summer jobs and saving money; some (myself included) are thinking about beginning their senior year in a few months while some are being ushered into the adult world after finishing their time at Carthage. Claire Heronemus ’17 is one of the latter. Like most seniors fresh out of college, Claire is thinking about the fact that she won’t be returning to school at the end of summer, and is instead looking for a place to start a career. Claire was kind enough to make time to talk to me about her time at Carthage and what the future hold for her.
What is your major?
Have you always wanted to pursue theatre?
I have been interested in theatre since I was born, practically, but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I knew that this was the right route for me. I bounced from teaching to theology, to music education, to where I am now, and I couldn’t be happier.
What has been a highlight of your time at Carthage?
There have been so many great memories over the last four years: I was able to take a show to Scotland, go to KCACTF and New York with Afghanistan/Wisconsin, serve others in Nicaragua, recruit high schoolers to become the future of our department, but I think my favorite memory has to be when I directed “Not Enough.” I got to work with, mentor, and teach some wonderful people. I grew so much personally, and the community we created and the bonds that were built were so incredible. “Not Enough” was the perfect pinnacle of my college career.
What challenges have you faced during your college career?
I am a big advocate of never turning down opportunities, and in a lot of cases this has led to my favorite experiences, but it also leads to some pretty major burnouts. I have taken on a lot of positions in various shows, my job with the Office of Ensemble and Events, and what feels like 50 other things at times. But I’m forever grateful for all of the things I have participated in and the opportunities I’ve had.
What are you going to miss the most about Carthage?
I will definitely miss the atmosphere, my friends, and my colleagues. Carthage has always felt like home to me and that’s in no small part due to the relationships that I’ve developed throughout my time. My professors have been a big support in a lot of my decisions and development, my friends and colleagues have redefined a lot of what I believe to be important and necessary in relationships, and how that contributes to my worth as a human being.
What are some of the roles you had on campus, and what organizations were you involved in during your time at Carthage?
My freshman year I worked in the theatre department mostly in the Scene Shop building and creating the sets for our productions, and I also did a lot of run crew and costume crew. My sophomore year is when I transitioned into my position as the theatre marketing and publicity head. I began working in the Box Office, and I took a year off from shows while I took a semester to go study in the Disney College Program. Junior year was the year of stage management. There was not one month where I wasn’t working as Stage Manager for a show. Senior year has been the culmination of my time, and experiences here at Carthage as I have focused a lot of my time on directing various staged readings. I worked on the Carthage yearbook, Driftwood; I am a part of the Neil Futurists, a theatre performance group; Alpha Psi Omega, the Honors Theatre fraternity; Lambda Pi Eta, the Honors Communications fraternity; I have spoken at chapel several times, and I was a part of the Baccalaureate planning committee. So you could say I’ve kept myself busy.
How did you become involved in the Office of Ensemble and Events? Why is it important that Carthage create these opportunities for students?
Later in my freshman year, Martin McCelndon, the Theatre Department Chair contacted me about shifting into the role of the much needed marketing and publicity head of the department. I was working on developing our patrons and mailing list for about two years when Tianna Conway was hired, and once she caught wind of what I was doing I was quickly transferred and put to work in her office as my job fell under her umbrella. My job has developed from there and I’m proud of how far the job itself has come and what I have helped mold it into.
How did you get your internship at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater? How do you feel this experience has prepared you for life after Carthage?
I feel in some ways that my internship at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater kind of fell into my lap. I knew while looking at my requirements left for my last semester that I only needed to take three courses, so I thought to myself, “If I schedule these all on the same days I can have two days off a week!” And then I realized that the smarter decision would be to potentially search for an internship. I knew I wanted to keep my search to Milwaukee, and The Rep happened to be the first place I looked; next thing I knew I had an interview and then I got an offer! So, it was all a little spur of the moment. More than I should admit, probably. The reason I became a General Theatre major was because I love exploring all of the different elements and departments in theatre. Later in high school, I discovered a passion for Arts Administration and combining those two thoughts has led me to Development at The Rep. Having an internship under my belt has greatly increased my prospects after college. Before I accepted my post-college job, I was being interviewed for several arts administration jobs, and I know that The Rep has had a major part in that. This internship has helped me realize that no task is too small. Everything I do that seems insignificant always has a huge impact on the community and the theater, so it’s great to be reminded of that constantly.
How do you feel your experiences at Carthage, such as directing “Not Enough”, have developed you as a professional?
I could go on for days about my experience working on “Not Enough.” It will always hold a place in my heart, as will the people that helped me make that show everything it was. I knew going into college that I wanted to work on directing and I wanted to work towards a Directing Thesis. Though I came across a few challenges in making that goal a reality, I am so thankful that I was able to put together “Not Enough.” The show helped me communicate, create strong bonds, and I hope that it was a positive experience for all involved. “Not Enough” helped me realize who I wanted to be in the professional world. It helped me realize how serious I wanted to be taken, how I wanted to conduct myself in the workplace and on projects. I grew up so fast in all the best ways.
What are your current plans for life after Carthage?
I want to eventually work my way back over to theatre, but for now, I have been accepted to go back to Disney World and work on attractions there. Disney is an incredible company with a mission I can wholeheartedly get behind. Not to mention, it has so many advancement opportunities. I am hoping to try to work my way up the ladder there and get over to Entertainment or become a manager of a department. Long term, I don’t have anything set in stone. I feel it’s not worth planning too far in advance because there are so many variables, so many things that could happen to derail any plans.
What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in the performing arts?
I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is to discover your passion, and hold onto that. It’s so hard to pursue a career in this field if you are not going into it with everything you have. Also, never underestimate the importance of a support system. I would not be anywhere without my family and friends that stick behind me and catch me when I fall. They are the best!