The Theatre School > About > Alumni > Jen Seleznow
Tell us about your current projects and career.
After I graduated from DePaul, I worked as a freelance technician in Chicago (Assistant Project Manager, Ravenswood Studio, Inc.; Production Manager, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; Technical Director, DePaul Opera Theatre; Overhire Carpenter, Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Technical Director, Electrician, and Carpenter at various storefront theatres) until I accepted the position of Assistant Technical Director at Lookingglass Theatre Company. After two seasons, I wanted to change my environment. I moved to Seattle, Washington, where I work as a freelance carpenter and rigger (I.A.T.S.E. and non-union).
Currently, I am spending two months as the Automation Assistant at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I am also working as a Stagehand at ACT for Little Shop of Horrors and as the Technical Director at Cornish College for two sophomore ensemble projects. I recently received my City Card, which allows me to take on additional freelance work for events at Seattle Center.
How did The Theatre School prepare you for your career?
The Theatre School exposed me to the reality of working in the field of entertainment technology. At TTS, I had the opportunity to develop extremely specific skills in my chosen concentration (Technical Direction) such as communication with a design team, time and budget management, and construction/rigging, drafting, and technique. However, the program is designed in such a way that we practice related skills (such as lighting, props, etc.) on a regular basis, and in a hands-on way. I have found that having skills outside of my chosen discipline has not only helped me be better at my job; it has made me an asset to employers.
My professors did a great job of taking advantage of the school's location in Chicago. Many of them worked professionally while teaching, so we were constantly invited to backstage tours and to sit in on previews. We even went on tours of five major scenic shops in the city as part of our curriculum for the Construction and Rigging 2 class. This exposure provided a context for what we were studying and often lead to professional work opportunities.
What was one thing you learned at The Theatre School that has stayed with you and that has been helpful in your current line of work?
The Theatre School taught me to be an engaged and active collaborator. Working with a team is a skill that needs to be practiced and developed over time—it requires honesty and feedback. TTS put me into situations where I was regularly involved with a group: in the classroom, for production practice, and working on assignments. In our field, it is vital that artists be able to clearly and effectively communicate and work together to reach a common goal. TTS helped to foster an environment where students were constantly challenged to improve their collaboration skills and receive feedback for future work.
What advice would you give to students at The Theatre School?
I would advise students to take advantage of everything Chicago has to offer. There are different neighborhoods, museums, recreational sports leagues, restaurants, places to explore, and a ton of art happening in the city. It is sometimes easy to get sucked into work, but a huge part of college should be about developing as a whole person. Aside from how dense the theatre industry is in Chicago (go see shows!) it is just a really great place to live.