Loren Hiser ’15 served as just one of three undergraduate students on the Emerging Scholars panel at the 36th Annual Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC) in 2015.
A scholarly tradition now spanning more than three decades, the conference took place in March 2015, in Kansas City, Neb., where Hiser presented her research paper on the evolution and cultural significance of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Spring Awakening” by Duncan Sheik and book by Steven Sater. In her paper, Hiser argues that both the musical and original text critique repression and censorship in a way that is meaningful to Victorian audiences and those of today-for whom the work serves as a critique of abstinence-only education.
Hiser has admired the musical since seeing it when she was 12 years old, but was inspired to view the work through a political lens when many of her courses began discussing abstinence-only education, and the rising teen pregnancy rates in states that implement it. After completing the essay at HWS, Hiser continued to revise the work and submitted it to the MATC under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Theatre Chris Woodworth.
“For many theatre academics-myself included-MATC provides unparalleled networking opportunities,” Woodworth said. “It’s smaller than most national conferences yet the rigor is still high. Many theatre academics begin their involvement with MATC as graduate students and continue to participate in the organization as their careers progress.”
In addition to her analysis off-stage, Hiser was deeply involved in theatre and drama at the Colleges. A regular in the main stage shows, Hiser portrayed Madame Pernelle in Moliere’s, “Tartuffe” during the fall 2014 semester and portrayed notable favorites in “Alice in Wonderland.”
A recent graduate, Hiser will pursue a master’s degree in arts management at Carnegie Mellon Heinz School of Public Policy, and later hopes to develop her own theatre program with the purpose of empowering young girls. She also has been accepted to a year-long fellowship with the Berkeley Repertory Theater, a national leader in innovative theatre.
At HWS, she was also a member of the Phoenix Players, a student-run theatre group, as well as Mosaic NY, a social justice troupe which was launched in spring 2014. Hiser served as a student leader for HWS Reunion, worked at Fox Run Vineyards, and interned for the documentary production company GLP Films, founded by Rob Holmes ’92.
“I hope to still be doing the same thing five years, 10 years, even 50 years down the road: engaging in theatre for social change and all that the term embraces, including theatre of the oppressed, community theatre, political theatre, or anything else that fits into this dynamic and ever-changing field,” Hiser said. “My goals are to build communities of strength while shedding light on, rising up against, and further investigating questions of discrimination, health, human rights, and inequality.”
In the photos above, Loren Hiser ’15 rehearses for “Tartuffe” on the stage in Bartlett Theatre.