Loyola University Chicago

Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Introducing the new faces of our production workshops!

Introducing the new faces of our production workshops!

Left to right: Justin Snyder, Clare Roche, Austin Pettinger

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts is always evolving, and this year was no different as we welcomed three full-time staff members! Austin Pettinger (Costume Shop Manager), Clare Roche (Lighting and Sound Supervisor), and Justin Snyder (Technical Director), are a talented group of people who are thrilled to share their expertise and to inspire students to go beyond their comfort zone. Read on to learn more about how they found their place in the theatre world and how they hope to make their mark on our department.

Each of the three discovered their love of the arts early on in their lives. Austin was introduced to sewing in 6th grade: “I bought a few books on sewing, went to an auction with my grandfather to buy a used $15 sewing machine, and taught myself to sew.” Through YouTube videos and high school costume construction, Austin honed his skills and decided to pursue a BFA in Costume Designs and Technologies from the University of Evansville.

Clare worked her way through many aspects of performance, from "playing violin in the pit orchestra for musicals at [her] high school, running the light board, designing lights, sets, and stage managing." Although she enjoyed designing, Clare especially fell in love with being an electrician and went on to study Theatre and English here at Loyola.

Justin found the perfect blend of construction and creativity through building sets in middle and high school. He studied Business Administration at Chapman University in California before working in theatre throughout Phoenix and Los Angeles for several years. About six years ago, Justin moved to Chicago. He most recently served as the Assistant Technical Director for Court Theatre, and in 2015, Justin earned the Emerging Technical Collaborator award at the Michael Merritt Awards. Several industry colleagues pointed Justin toward Loyola, and our department’s "inventive and inclusive culture" intrigued him enough to apply for the position.

Other twists of fate led our staff to Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Austin’s first job in Chicago was assisting Loyola’s previous Costume Shop Manager, Alex Meadows, with a costume design on a professional production in the city. Along with that job, he has also worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Papermill Playhouse, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and many more. Once he established himself in Chicago, he took on a part-time draping position in Loyola’s shop. In the spring of 2017, Austin was hired as the new Costume Shop Manager.

Since graduating from Loyola, Clare has worked all across the country. She has traveled as the Production Stage Manager and Tent Boss for New Belgium Brewery’s Tour de Fat; has worked in Chicago as a Lighting Supervisor and Stage Manager at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Victory Gardens, The Hypocrites, among others; and has worked as Master Electrician at Loyola in some capacity since 2010. Clare started independently contracted in the Mullady Theatre (Loyola’s previous performance space), and once the Newhart Family Theatre opened, she was hired part-time before recently being hired as full-time staff.

Because of Clare’s experience pursuing different positions and working with several styles of the arts, she encourages students "to take advantage of every opportunity they can in order to be a well rounded person." Clare hopes to bring to Loyola students the inspiration to try new things and to encourage them to explore all the facets of the performing arts.

Austin cannot wait to share his passion while simultaneously exploring new techniques to expand his knowledge and that of his students. Also, recognizing the creative freedom our department encourages, Austin wants to "help students cultivate a higher standard of technical ability and explore options in the professional world they may not have known were available."

Justin is ready to get "young persons excited about building things—not just scenery—so they feel empowered to go out in the world and make great art." He also hopes to foster an appreciation for the hard work that technicians do to create the world of a show. At Loyola, Justin loves the enthusiasm students invest in their projects, and he claims their willingness to put forth a collaborative group effort is unmatched even by professionals in the industry.

Our Department has already benefited tremendously from the energy, enthusiasm, and expertise that these three bring to our production shops. Each theatre major will have the opportunity to engage with them through the costume construction, scenic construction, and electrics practicums, and many students also have the opportunity to be hired in our shops through work study. When asked what she is looking forward to most in her new position, Clare remarked, "I am most excited about being a more active participant in the education of our students, and teaching them about the aspects of theatre that a lot of people don't get to see—the backstage life."