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Anne Peterson fell in love with the spot­light, but not in the usual way.
Senior Anne Peterson grew up in Min­neapolis, Minn., enveloped in one of the artistic centers of the country, attending and enjoying the the­atrical oppor­tu­nities enough to be “the unof­ficial pho­tog­rapher” for her high school theater. Theater was always an interest, but it wasn’t till she expe­ri­enced theater from the pro­duction side that she fell in love with it.
It wouldn’t be until her junior of college that she’d dis­cover her true passion: dra­maturgy.
“When I got to Hillsdale, first semester freshman year I was placed in Dave Griffith’s theatre pro­duction class — just the one-credit working back­stage — and he needed someone to work the follow spot­light for ‘Company,’ and I vol­un­teered for that,” Peterson said. “It was such a fun expe­rience. It was so much work, so much time. I mean, the actors had been been working really, really hard before that. But it was just such a great expe­rience.”
After working the lights for “Company,” Peterson began working in a semi-per­manent capacity in the light booth. It was the first of many roles she has assumed in theatre department pro­duc­tions.
From her first, somewhat ten­tative, accep­tance of the role helping with lighting, Peterson has since taken on as her senior project the role of dra­maturge for Mary Zimmerman’s “Mirror of the Invisible World,” a play based on a 12th-century Persian poem, to be per­formed later this semester.
“I just kept con­tinued working and took “Under­standing Theatre” the semester after that. Then I decided to be a theater major. And I have devoted most of my time to it since,” she chuckled.
Peterson has since tried her hand at acting, pro­duction, lights, and much more in prepa­ration and per­for­mance of the various shows, bal­ancing her theatre and English double major all the while.
“One of the best things about Anne is that she is a jack of all trades,” senior Kathrine Denton said. “She looks for things to be done, and she does every­thing well. She’s fab­ulous. She sees things and says, ‘Hey, I can do that and like to! Tell me if you need any­thing.’ She’s been instru­mental in every show that I’ve been in here. She works so hard.”
Peterson said dra­maturgy came nat­u­rally when she took the dra­maturgy class last year, and the class project of researching and pro­ducing Euripides’ “Medea” sparked her interest and, to a great extent, directs her  future plans.
“Every­thing is pretty involved in the dra­maturgy because not only is it the play itself, it’s also the research, the reen­act­ments, and more for the play,” senior Peter Kistler, fellow theatre major and classmate in dra­maturgy, said. “Anne got really inter­ested in it and just came into her own and was the sole dra­maturg for the per­for­mance of Eurydice.”
Peterson’s gift and interest come in part because it com­pounds her love of lit­er­ature with her love of theatre, and though she loves acting as well, she said it lets her be just as involved and avoid revealing that she has “no idea what to do with her hands” when she meets new people.
“She really loves the scholastic end of theatre,” Pro­fessor of Theatre George Angell said. “She loves dis­cov­ering the answers outside and around the theatre. The best thing about Anne as a dra­maturge is that she is excited about the project and excited about telling what she found. This is important because you have to present it to the director and actors.”
Angell said Peterson has rep­re­sented the Hillsdale Theatre Department in years past at the DePauw Under­graduate Honors Con­ference and at the American College Theatre Fes­tival by pre­senting papers and reviews of pro­duc­tions. He antic­i­pates her to do so this year as well.
“Dra­maturgy is basi­cally lit­erary expertise of the script. The dra­maturge is there to flesh out his­torical and lit­erary allu­sions of the script,” Pro­fessor of Theatre James Brandon said. “It’s research. Dra­maturgy brings to the table a lot of things Anne loves and is good at. Dra­maturges provide a service that no one else in the theatre can provide.”
After working with Peterson in just about all of her shows, Denton said that Peterson’s humble bearing and easy-going abil­ities with people really make her amazing at explaining her research. According to Denton, Peterson’s hilarious and chill attitude doesn’t hurt either.
“Anne always acts very pro­fes­sionally, even though such tact is often very dif­ficult at this point in our lives,” Kistler said. “It’s easy just to say ‘I’m having a crappy day,’ but she doesn’t do that, even when she’s really stressed.”
Peterson said she loves the theatre and the sat­is­faction of work that is both visibly com­plete and visibly effects other people.
“Being a pup­peteer in king stag was great,” she said. “It was fun because I had never worked in such a family-friendly show before.”
She said that her favorite audience reaction came from that show, when the giant bear puppet was sneaking up behind a hunter and a small child in the front row audibly whis­pered “there’s a bear behind you” in warning.
“It was a glimpse of you can present some­thing that can really grab people, even a little kid,” she said. “It is very sat­is­fying.”
Her love of research, the audience, and the spot­light all inspire Peterson to pursue a future in the the­atrical world. Ideally as a dra­maturg.
“I would like to go to grad school, don’t know if I can go right away, but I’d like to get some prac­tical work,” Peterson said. “I know a lot of theatre grad­uates who are working in the theatre but its scary, there’s no guar­antee that we’ll be able to get jobs.”
“But if it weren’t scary,” she added, “I don’t know if it’d be worth it.”