Setting the Stage for Success
The Normandale Theatre Department provided Rachel Weber with a firm foundation for an acting career.
When Rachel Weber came to Normandale, she thought she wanted a career in theatre. By the time Weber graduated, she had developed skills and gained a keen understanding of the commitment it would take to succeed. She's now a busy actress and a veteran of a growing number of top Twin Cities theatre companies.
When Weber graduated from high school in 2002, she wasn't sure of her next step. After participating in community theatre and taking time off from school, she came to Normandale in 2005. She liked the college's vibe, its small class sizes, and its affordability. She also was excited about everything she read about the Normandale Theatre Department and the Associate of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Performance. She decided to pursue that track and spread her education out over three years to allow her to work and try to graduate debt free.
She quickly discovered the type of commitment that Normandale instructors ask for. Weber's first role saw her play the main female character in The Einstein Project. During a rehearsal, Normandale Instructor Anne Byrd (who directed the production) asked Weber about the character's motivation. Weber had never considered the idea before.
“Anne introduced me to the fact that as an actor you should come up with ideas and thoughts about your character,” says Weber, “and that you should be developing the character both during and outside of rehearsals.”
Dedicated, committed instructors
Weber enjoyed the dedication and commitment that instructors brought to productions. She also appreciated how they made sure the students were committed to high standards. Anne Byrd, who was also her advisor, met with her weekly to discuss everything from scripts to classes to post-college plans. Weber would also talk with Instructors Sean Byrd and Kurt Schweickhardt about the productions, theatre in general, and many other topics.
“The instructors always showed joy and passion for the program and the productions,” she says.
“They treated theatre like a career that could be pursued, and they gave directions on how to do that. They also encouraged you to make big choices and not be afraid to make mistakes. They all were genuinely interested in what I was getting out of the program.”
Weber graduated from Normandale in 2008 and went right into regular acting work. She recently wrapped up a role in Shrek the Musical at the Children's Theatre Co., and was also in the company's production of Cinderella. Since graduating, Weber has performed with the Bloomington Civic Theatre and Park Square Theatre and in several films by local filmmakers.
She credits Normandale's Theatre instructors for preparing her well for working in the field, and continues to cross paths with students and instructors in the Twin Cities theatre community.
“The instructors are gems,” she says. “They are not only teaching the subject, they are also active members of the theatre community.
"That initially drew me to the program, and I continue to be impressed by it. They don't just teach theatre, they live it—and that helps them do a great job of preparing their students for success.”