What do you do with a BA in Theatre?
As Director of Theatre Mark Lococo about the Loyola Theatre Program, “[o]ur approach to theatre is based in the Liberal Arts; by offering a BA rather than a BFA, we emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary study in the formation of adaptable, well rounded theatre artists.” The Loyola Theatre Student is exposed to performance, design, writing, management, and all other aspects of creating a production. Becca “B. B.” Browne, a 2015 Loyola graduate, shared with us how she has been utilizing the skills she gained from Loyola throughout her work in Chicago’s theatre scene since graduation.
When did you graduate from Loyola and what did you study?
I graduated from Loyola in 2015 and I double majored in Theatre and Advertising/Public Relations, with a concentration in Women Studies and Gender Studies.
What productions were you involved in?
I played my first Maid role in The House of Bernarda Alba in 2015 and my favorite role that I did in college was as Woman One in the three woman show, From the Mississippi Delta.
What was your favorite experience in the Theatre Department?
I think my favorite experience was working on From the Mississippi Delta. Me, Anna Dauzvardis, and Dionne Addai will always be The Delta Queens - I still remember lines from the show. It was an incredible bonding experience and a very moving show. It was the first time in a long time that Loyola produced a play with an all Black cast - an all Black female cast to be exact. It was significant and we could feel that weight. We know that representation matters and that applies to our education in theatre as well. We can’t forget about that.
What did you do right after graduation?
After graduation I was a Factotum (Latin for “one who does everything) at the Telluride Association Sophomore Seminar (TASS) program at the Cornell Branch in Ithaca, New York. TASS is an incredible majority Black, six-week program for high school students who have completed their sophomore year. During TASS, students take college-level seminars on topics related to critical Black and ethnic studies. My co-factotum and I planned the programs and established an environment for students to practice self-governance; we were teaching assistants and teaching artists; we were in charge of safety and driving as well. The title is really accurate.
Then I was unemployed for a couple of months, living off my stipend from working with TASS over the summer. The struggle was real. Literally just when rent was due, I got a job as the Audience Development Associate at Goodman Theatre and I was there for 2 Seasons (2015/16 and 2016/17) working with the College Ambassador Program, accessible services, and audience development events and programming.
What do you do now at Victory Gardens?
At Victory Gardens I am the Audience Development Manager and I’ve been here for just over half a year now. My job consists of managing group sales as well as exploring ways that our plays can encourage our patrons to make a positive impact on their communities. The latter part involves curating some of our free Public Programs that are specific to audience development, such as post-show performances and celebrations; partnering with other nonprofit organizations to raise funds for their institutions through our shows; organizing donation drives at the theater; and building long term, mutually beneficial relationships between Victory Gardens and the Chicago community. Because the shows in our 2018/19 Season focus on several social justice issues, I get to work with incredible organizations that are doing the work to address real problems that Chicago faces. My job is to make sure that audiences receive the tools to enact change. It’s not just art - it’s art as impact.
How did you find this position?
I came to Victory Gardens having no idea that I would end up here. After quitting my job at the Goodman, I spent some time writing and producing theater while hostessing in a couple of restaurants to pay the bills. I was looking for an artistic home and I had initially applied for the Artistic Fellowship at VG. At the time of my application, the Audience Development Manager position became available, so as part of my interview for the fellowship, we also talked about that position. Since the Artistic Fellowship was more so geared for directors, I was out of the running as a playwright. But, after a couple of additional interviews that were just for audience development, I was offered the job and accepted it. I’ve been able to grow immensely as an artist as well as an administrator while I’ve been here. Funny how things work out! I’ve definitely learned to roll with the punches in terms of where my career path goes. You have to be open to different opportunities because you never know what can happen and what experience might inspire you.
What independent projects have you been working on lately?
I’m writing a play to further bring attention to the missing Black women and girls on Chicago’s South and West sides. The project is in development, but seeks to marry documentary theater with the audience development work I’ve done.
Currently I am also a writer and performer for a variety podcast called The National American Presents: The Sipping Hour. We’ve been developing a new segment called “Girl Watchu Watching,” where 5 Black women get together and discuss our varied perspectives on film and television, proving that our voices are not monolithic.
What is something you learned at Loyola that has influenced your post-grad life?
At Loyola, I learned a lot about taking initiative. In order to see changes in the representation of Black people -specifically Black women- on stage; in order to create a future in which there is equity regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and age - you have to do the work yourself. You can’t wait for permission. You can’t wait for someone else to believe in you. We don’t have that kind of time. You have to put in the work to see the change that you’re after and that takes not only initiative, but innovation.