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in the arts


Kim StaufferActor and playwright Kim Stauffer (C 99) is currently in a one-year Acting Fellowship with Washington D.C."s Shakespeare Theater. Crossroads caught up with her recently.

You graduated from EMU with social work and theater degrees. Does that strike you as an unusual combination?

No. Both revolve around stories and the human experience. Both encourage empathy and ask us to open ourselves to new ways of being. With each, I am painfully and wonderfully aware of my own humanity—how far I have come and how far I have yet to go.

How did you decide to focus on theater?

When I graduated I wasn't sure. I decided to explore each one for a year, and then evaluate where I was. At the end of the year I knew: I feel most alive when I am creating. So, I began auditioning for MFA actor training programs and enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

You're one of eight people (including just two women) awarded this year's Shakespeare Theater Acting Fellowship. How were you selected?

While studying at UNCG, I competed in the American College Theater Festival. I was selected as a national finalist. This gave me an opportunity to spend a week at the Kennedy Center performing and collaborating with playwrights, other actors, and master teachers. It was there that the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater offered me the fellowship.

What were your Shakespeare-related experiences at EMU?

During my first year at EMU, Barbra Graber cast me as Miranda in The Tempest. I developed a real love for Shakespeare's language and clues the text gives actors. Later, during J.B. Landis' Shakespeare class, we visited D.C. and saw The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Shakespeare Theater. I now work alongside one of the actors who performed in that show!

You grew up in a Mennonite home in Lancaster, Pa. Does it seem like that’s a world away now?

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Sometimes. I move in a very different world now. It is transitory. Nomadic. But at times I am surprised by how similar these worlds are—in the theater world everyone knows everyone else, and they like "fellowship" just as much as a group of Mennonites at a potluck. Sometimes I feel I am making my own way.

There aren't a whole lot of people with a Mennonite background I can ask, "What did you do when…" or "How did you handle…" A world away? Often, yes. But the way I move within it is still very much connected to the community of faith that grounds me. It is who I am and the way I work. A root system that extends way beyond me. That is a quiet revolution in a world like this.

—Karen Longacher (C 93) Minatelli