Setting the Stage with Jared Schmidt
I knew from the moment I stepped on campus that I wanted to do theatre. I was planning on being a theatre major and didn’t miss a chance to get pictures in front of Neely Auditorium on Move-In Day. No surprise that I was excited for the Vanderbilt University Theatre Ice Cream Social event that promised both a tour of the theatre and ice cream. It was there that I encountered Dr. Leah Lowe, the head of the Theatre department. Later that week I was in her office, talking about the play she was set to direct that fall, The Language Archive. TLA ended up being my first Vanderbilt show, chewing up my whole September with nonstop rehearsals. Throughout that process, I built a level of familiarity with Leah that encouraged me to approach her regarding Immersion.
I wanted to direct a show. I was already eager to take Leah’s directing class after having done some scene work for her directing students, but as time wore on through my first semester, I got more and more enchanted by the idea of helming my own project. The Theatre department has limited opportunities for directing baked in, and I viewed Immersion as an opportunity to open the door for direction. So I took my directing dream to Leah and she told me she would help me build a plan once the department developed its internal Immersion process. Less than a year later, early this fall, me and Leah devised and drafted my current plan: case studies for all of my Fall 2019 shows (including director interviews), taking the directing course next fall, and then directing a small-scale project after that. It’s just what I wanted—the plan aligns with my goals while affording me enough flexibility to can follow whatever artistic path I choose with the final product.
I wouldn’t be as happy with my plan without Leah acting as my Immersion advisor. I believe the key to making the most of Immersion is finding someone who is interested in your goals and knowledgeable in how they can be pursued, and I was fortunate enough to find that person in Leah. The best part was that I found her where I already wanted to be. My passion guided me to the Ice Cream Social, and to Leah—I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Jared Schmidt, Class of 2022
Jared Schmidt is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in Theatre, English, and Political Science. He hails from Spring Hill, TN, and hopes to advance the creation of meaningful theater on campus.