During her senior year, she took a new class called Theater for Community Impact, led by Jessica Brater, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Theater Studies BA and MA Programs, that was partnering with local professional theatre Luna Stage to create a piece of locally-responsive theatre to be performed both at Luna Stage and Montclair State University. Because of her work on this project, Jessica was invited to interview at Luna Stage post-graduation—and was hired.
We caught up with Jessica in her new role as Fundraising Assistant and Box Office Assistant at Luna Stage.
What was your main focus during undergrad, and what did you hope to do upon graduation in the spring?
JESSICA: My area of focus during undergrad was writing; primarily playwriting, but I’ve never limited myself to just one medium. In the Spring, I wasn’t entirely sure what my “next step” would be exactly, but what I was sure of, was that I wanted to be involved with theatre in any capacity.
What is your title and role at Luna Stage?
I wear a couple of hats at Luna. The first is that of Box Office Associate, and the other is Fundraising Assistant. I facilitate most Box Office transactions during the run of the theater’s mainstage shows, and when I’m not doing that I help research and apply for funding opportunities that help sustain Luna, since we are a not-for-profit theater.
What are your career goals? How is your work at Luna moving you towards those goals?
My goal is to just continue to grow as a writer; growth which will hopefully extend to not just my playwriting, but my fiction writing, and poetry as well. Just being immersed in such a thriving artistic environment, has been really galvanizing for me as an artist. I’m motivated to write on nights when I would ordinarily tune into Housewives or just turn into bed early. Working at a theater is a great way to not lose sight of what I hope to do.
What is something useful or surprising that you have learned at Luna thus far that has contributed to your growth?
The most useful thing I’ve learned from my time at Luna so far, is to say yes to things that intimidate you (professionally). Life can surprise you and a lot of the time, you surprise yourself more than anyone or anything else. So say yes and be amazed by what you’re capable of!
Kaitlin Stilwell, Luna Stage’s Community and Connectivity Dramaturg, cites Jessica’s broad grounding through the BA Theatre Studies program as well as Jessica’s talent and work ethic as the reasons she is such a great addition to the theatre. “As a small professional theatre, you need people who are able and willing to lend themselves to various types of work to keep the wheels turning—people who can think broadly but can also dig deep within a few specific skillsets. If they are an artist themselves, all the better! When I first met Jessica through my collaboration with Montclair State’s Theatre for Community Impact class led by Professor Jessica Brater, I was first struck by Jessica’s talent as a writer. As I got to know her, I was impressed with her critical thinking when discussing social issues, and her dramaturgical thinking when crafting story. When Jessica applied to work with us at Luna Stage, I was thrilled! I believe that her education through the BA Theatre Studies program allowed her to develop both her tremendous writing skills, her broad understanding of theatre, and her critical thinking as to theatre’s relationship to society—an exciting combination! We cannot wait to see how Jessica’s role at Luna continues to evolve.”