Corrie Riedl ’17, Audience Services Associate at Lookingglass Theatre
By Madison Kobe ’18
Some of the best inspiration and encouragement comes from talking to someone who has already graduated, especially when that person is successful so soon after college. Corrie Riedl ’17 is such an individual; she was fortunate enough to be offered a position at Lookingglass Theatre before graduation, which she talked to me about. Now, after half a year at the position, I’m following up with her to see how her summer was at her new position.
Tell me a little bit about your responsibilities as an Audience Services Associate.
Working in Audience Services, I am often the first point of contact for patrons attending Lookingglass Theatre. I split my time between working in the box office and house managing for performances. In the box office, I mainly spend my time selling and exchanging tickets, and answering questions about the productions and the company. House managing is a little more hands-on with the patrons. My main responsibility there is making sure we start the show on time and get through our intermissions on time, while assisting patrons with any needs that may come up throughout the performance. Both positions are really about making sure each patron has a positive and personal experience from the moment they step in the door of our theater.
Were you nervous to accept the position for such a large theatre?
The more I learned about Lookingglass before I actually started working here, the more nervous I got! Lookingglass was founded by an amazing group of people and has grown to produce over 64 world premieres, has had 143 Jeff Award Nominations, and won a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2011. The thought of representing such an impressive company was nerve-wracking. But every single person here, from the actors to the higher up artistic staff to our amazing security and janitorial staff, has been so kind, welcoming, knowledgeable, and generous with their time; I very quickly felt at home here. I seriously can’t say enough good things about the people that work for this company. I’m kind of in love with them all!
What has been a highlight of your first summer at Lookingglass Theatre?
It’s hard to pick just one! Honestly just meeting all of the great people here. I’ve met people that have performed and worked at theaters all over the world, and they all have so much to offer. The patrons are also incredible. Some of our subscribers have been seeing productions here for 20+ years, and are unbelievably passionate about everything we do. It’s thrilling to spend so much time around such dedicated people! Also, the productions are mind-blowing. All summer we were running Moby Dick, adapted and directed by Lookingglass Ensemble Member David Catlin. The first time I saw the show I kept hitting the person I was sitting next to because I was so blown away by everything they were doing. It was gorgeous, heart wrenching, and just a joy to experience. I saw it three times during the run because I couldn’t get enough of it!
What challenges, if any, have you faced in your transition?
Adjusting to living in Chicago has been a bit of a challenge because it’s so different from anywhere I’ve lived before. I’ve been surprised at how much I love it, though! Due to Lookingglass’ location in a historic building, we have a lot of tourists that come in and ask us questions about the city, so I’ve had to embrace the Chicago spirit and learn a lot about the city very quickly. It’s been a challenge, but has helped me adjust to the city lifestyle very fast.
How did Carthage prepare you for your new position?
Carthage gave me so many opportunities to learn about running a box office, interacting with patrons, and representing a company. I already had a real sense of professionalism and knew how to take pride in my work due to everything I got to do at Carthage. I was the Carthage Student Box Office Manager when the online ticketing system was implemented, so I knew how to be flexible and adapt quickly to new ways of doing things. I honestly wouldn’t have had a chance getting this position without all the opportunities to learn and grow that Carthage gave me.
Is there any way Carthage could have better prepared you for your position?
I don’t think so! Things are run differently here than at Carthage, simply because this is a professional theatre and Carthage is an educational one. They are by nature different beasts. But Carthage gave me all the tools I needed to step into this new space with new responsibilities and be successful. I hope Carthage continues to always encourage their students to branch out and learn as much about as many different areas of their field of study as possible. As an actor, having an appreciation and understanding of all the administrative work that goes into making a production successful is incredibly beneficial, and I hope more students are exposed to it.
How do you feel you have grown since you first accepted the position?
I definitely feel so much more confident in my abilities to handle challenges in the moment. A lot of weird things can happen in the middle of a performance, and as a house manager, you have to be able to take care of them right away. People with special seating needs being sat in the wrong place, patrons arriving late, people smuggling animals into the theatre; it all has to be handled quickly, professionally, and in a way that upholds the values of the theatre you work for. You really have to be ready for anything, and I now feel so much more prepared to handle all the crazy things that may come my way.
What do you miss the most about Carthage?
The people! I miss being surrounded by the super tight, supportive community that exists within the campus. I currently live with two other Carthage alumni, and see several others on a regular basis, but it’s very different from being on campus with everyone.