Allison Underhill finds inspiration in studies at LU
(Beaumont, Texas) July 28, 2011 – Junior theatre education major Allison Underhill revels in the opportunity to learn from others and hopes one day to inspire students of her own.
A native of Port Arthur and 2007 graduate of Nederland High School, Underhill has long set her sights on teaching theatre to high school students. But as she completes more of the upper-level coursework for her degree at Lamar University, she’s become interested in the possibility of pursuing a master’s in order to teach at the college level.
She credits Nederland High School teacher Kim Williams and Judith Sebesta, chair of Lamar’s Department of Theatre & Dance, with inspiring her plans to teach.
“I’ve always had this goal where I want to instill love of the art of theatre in young minds. Mrs. Williams was my high school drama teacher, and she’s one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. She is incredible at taking a great idea and running with it. At Lamar, Dr. Sebesta inspires me in the same way because she loves what she does. Her classes are incredibly interesting because she knows so much, and her door is always open if you have a question or concern. She is a great advisor, mentor and professor,” Underhill said.
Underhill is taking advantage of the numerous learning opportunities offered through the Department of Theatre & Dance. She is secretary of Alpha Psi Omega National Theater Honor Society and senior assistant in the theatre’s scene shop, where she builds, paints, and does “basically anything it takes to get the show up,” she explained.
As assistant stage manager for the recent production of “The Tempest,” Underhill appreciated the chance to work with and learn from guest artists Nathanael Johnson and Scott Pask. Los Angeles-based Johnson directed the play, while Pask (“Book of Mormon,” “The Pillowman,” “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”) provided scenic design.
“I love that we get all these people in because we can talk to them face to face,” Underhill said. “I’m thinking about graduate school, and I got to talk to Nathan all about it and learn about his experience at Yale School of Drama. And I got to Skype with Scott Pask for a production meeting on “The Tempest” and hear all of his thoughts and ideas and how he processes things and gets his inspiration. Then a few months later he won the Tony [for scenic design on “Book of Mormon”]. It was so awesome that I got to work with him.”
She chose Lamar partly because of its proximity to her home and family, but also because of its dynamic atmosphere and active campus life.
“I like being on campus. It’s very pretty, and there is always something going on. I’ve seen the growth even since I started here a few years ago. It’s flourished amazingly. They’ve added new dorms and started football again. I’ve seen the community response to that and I think it’s great,” Underhill said.
The intimate nature of the Department of Theatre & Dance was another bonus for Underhill. She likes that the professors know the students’ names and always have time to share their expertise. And although they compete for parts in various productions, the students in the department get along well and are “like one big, happy family.”
Underhill plans to graduate in May 2013. She is the recipient of the David Kyle Carlin Memorial Scholarship in Theatre and the Maria Concetta Cloninger Presidential Scholarship in Theatre.