Senior Katharine Archer has been performing for as long as she can remember. She began dancing at the age of three; she started doing stage crew for school shows during her freshman year of high school. “I’ve kind of always been on the stage and loved the stage,” Archer says. When Archer came to Catholic University, however, she chose to major in math, with plans to teach after graduation.
But this hasn’t meant that Archer has had to leave the stage behind. For the last four years, she has been involved with CenterStage, a student-run theatre company. In that time, Archer has served as an assistant stage manager, a stage manager, and a production manager for various productions. Now, she serves as finance director on the board of CenterStage.
At Catholic University, students not only have access to the vibrant arts scene in Washington D.C.—including the high-level contributions of Catholic University's own Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art—they have opportunities to create art. Whether they major in musical theatre or math, studio art or physics, the arts are available to all students at Catholic University.
For 40 years, CenterStage (originally the "Not Ready for Hartke Players") has been producing plays for the Catholic University community—and giving students the chance to perform. This year, CenterStage has produced six shows, including new, student-written works. The company includes both students majoring in performing arts, who plan to pursue careers in theatre, and students majoring in other fields for whom theatre is a passion.
For Archer, CenterStage has given her the opportunity to continue to pursue a passion, and someday she hopes to provide that opportunity to other students: “The dream is to be the type of teacher who can bring the arts and the science and the STEM fields together and to show that you can have the best of both worlds and be a person who loves both.”
Freshman politics major Connor Gerrity’s life revolved around music and theatre before college. Being able to continue singing during college was important to him. “I knew I didn’t want to do [music] professionally, but it’s something that I’ve always loved to do. It’s part of who I am.” When Gerrity came to Catholic, he auditioned for and got in to Redline, one of the University’s two student-run a cappella groups. Bridget Edmondson, a junior education studies major, joined Take Note A Cappella her sophomore year. “Having a year of college where I wasn’t singing was really hard for me,” Edmondson says. “Now, getting to sing twice a week [in practices] plus performances has allowed me to express myself more.”
Both Redline and Take Note perform regularly throughout the year at annual University events like Spookappella (hosted by Redline every fall) and Shamrockappella (hosted by Take Note each spring), with other a cappella groups in the D.C. area, and at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.
Performing with Take Note, Edmondson says, has helped her grow as a singer: “I’ve learned what my voice can do.” Gerrity has seen the impact of Redline in other areas of his life: “It’s teamwork; it’s learning music and putting together a piece of art. And that’s something I think is just as valuable as any class you would take. It’s an experience that’s informed my work ethic, my habits, and the way I think to approach my classes.”
But the primary reason students participate in the arts is that it brings them joy. As a resident assistant, Edmondson's work and class schedules are demanding. But “for those four hours of rehearsal each week I get to just sing and mess around with people I’ve become so close to.”
“If something brings you joy,” says senior psychology major and Redline member P.J. Connolly, “it doesn’t really have to be justified ... If you’re passionate about something and you’re good at it, I think you owe it to yourself to pursue it.” At Catholic University, students have the opportunity to do just that.