Loren Hiser ’15 recently began a year-long fellowship with the Berkeley Repertory Theater, a national leader in innovative theatre. Upon completion of the fellowship, Hiser will begin working towards her master’s degree in arts management at the Carnegie Mellon Heinz School of Public Policy.
“Getting the fellowship with Berkeley Repertory was the dream,” says Hiser, an English and comparative literature and theatre double major. “It was the ‘what if,’ the ‘how cool would it be if I…’ It’s a prolific institution, and I am very humbled by the opportunity to work with such a company.”
The Berkeley Repertory Theatre is a regional theatre known for its core values of imagination and excellence, as well as its educated and adventurous audience. The non-profit has featured emerging and established artists since 1968, and has sent seven shows to Broadway in the past seven years as well as received a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Hiser started her fellowship in mid-July, working with several departments of the theatre’s administration to help oversee special events, connect with benefactors and manage gifts and donations. The theatre’s impact on the local community and theatre industry in general is one of the things Hiser says drew her to the fellowship program in the first place. She also says that gaining the experience in arts administration and leadership through the fellowship will help prepare her for the master’s program at Carnegie Mellon.
While the fellowship offers her a rare theatre experience, getting back into academia after a year of real-world experience also holds a special pull for Hiser. She says she chose Carnegie Mellon in particular because of its similarities to academic life at the Colleges.
“I’ve been spoiled a bit at HWS with the interdisciplinary education I have received, and I wanted to capitalize on that for my graduate education,” she says. “I have had the best mentors imaginable at HWS, and I would feel out of sorts going to a program where my professors didn’t know me personally.”
Her choice was also influenced by her recent participation in the Mid-America Theatre Conference in March. She was a member of the Emerging Scholars panel that presented research on theatre history, pedagogy, practice and production. Hiser, who won an award for her work, met students and faculty from Carnegie Mellon and was compelled by what they told her about the program.
The Master of Arts Management Program at Carnegie Mellon will combine her interests in theatre, public policy, and the non-profit sector, which she hopes to combine into a career one day. Ultimately, Hiser says she’d like to start her own theatre troupe that focuses on social justice issues. Her goal is to provoke change through social justice theatre with a sound business infrastructure, and she believes her leadership experience in Berkeley, combined with her education at Carnegie Mellon, will prepare her for such a position.
“I firmly believe that social justice theatre has never been more fruitfully employed as a means to highlight social and political injustices than this moment in time,” says Hiser. “I see no reason why we, as artists and professionals, cannot do good while doing good business.”
At the Colleges, Hiser was a member of the theatre groups the Phoenix Players and Mosaic NY and acted in a number of plays. A Trustee Scholar, she also served as a theatre mentor, student leader during HWS Reunion, worked at Fox Run Vineyards, and telecommuted as a research intern for GLP Films, a documentary film company founded in 2007 by Hobart alum Rob Holmes ’92.