Sarah Johnsrude

This week, HerCampus was lucky enough to catch up with the amazing Sarah Johnsrude, theatre-maker extraordinaire. When Sarah isn’t designing a KCDC production or working in the costume shop, she can be found pursuing her sociology major or working tirelessly on an exciting new Kenyon theatre organization, StageFemmes, a women’s theatre! Not to mention, Sarah studied last Spring at the National Theatre Institute in Connecticut. Sarah (or, “Johnsy Johnsrude,” as she is affectionately known on Facebook) reminds Kenyon students to take advantage of opportunities here while you can. Read on to learn more about this busy bee!

Name: Sarah Johnsrude

Photo courtesy of Sarah Johnsrude, Sarah is on the right, and her roommate, Emily Herder, is on the left.

Major:  Sociology

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Year: Senior

HC: What on-campus activities are you involved in?
SJ: Kenyon College Drama Club, Stage Femmes (a new women’s theatre...stay tuned for more!), Costume Assistant to Debe Clark

HC: Recently, you designed just about every aspect of Faith Servant and Josh Henderson-Cox’s senior thesis "Medea" but you aren't a drama major! How did you get to do that?! What inspired your designs?
SJ: I approached Josh, the director of Medea, last spring and told him about my interest in working on the Greek tragedy because it allowed for so much flexibility and creative freedom. He agreed to take me on as the set, costume, and lighting designer. We were really interested in making a dining room table, a penultimate representation of the “private, familial sphere,” the battleground for the production. We didn’t want to set the piece in any specific time period, because the play itself is so universal. I had to create a timelessness with the costumes in a way that would still convey a specific world. I used stylistic motifs such as colors and textures to help distinguish between character’s gender, class, and cultural background. When I designed the lights I focused on moments that needed to convey some kind of heightened emotional quality. We tried to use lights to help tell the story as much as possible, without throwing in a lot of things that just looked cool but didn’t really need to be there. Medea is obviously a very complicated show, so we put a lot of thought into how we could tell the story simply and effectively for our audience.

HC: We've heard you are putting up an "unofficial thesis" next semester...what sorts of things can we look forward to seeing? How do you stay involved in the drama department even though you are not a major?
SJ: I can’t give away any secrets (because there aren’t any!), but I do expect to put on a play with Kenny Fedorko, a fellow sociology major, sometime this spring. We’re still ironing out lots of details, though (most of them, really). I decided not to double major because I knew I’d stay involved. I love being involved with theatre in any capacity – if I’m not designing or acting, I’m working in the costume shop or taking theatre classes. It’s easy if you take the initiative to try new things and stay open to whatever opportunities are available.

HC:What are 3 things no one knows about you?
SJ: Wouldn’t you like to know…

HC: When did you get involved with theatre?
SJ: In middle school I took an improv class. I had a very fickle love-hate relationship with it. Basically, I was really bad. And terrified. But at some point I started to get, like, high off the fear. So I started doing more. And more. And more.

HC: What do you love most about theatre?
SJ: The fact that you can’t do it alone. So much art seems to be about sequestering yourself off alone to observe and create, but if you try that in theater you’re just going to fail. By its very nature, it’s community-building.

HC: If you had to sum up your time abroad at the National Theatre Institute in one sentence, what would it be?
SJ:  “I’m really tired…” Haha. I don’t think I can do it justice in one sentence. If anyone is interested, feel free to come find me to talk about it.

HC: If you had to use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
SJ: Rawr.

HC: What should all Kenyon students do before the graduate?
SJ: Explore. Find something you love to do and if you don’t think there are enough opportunities here to do that thing, make it happen. Don’t get stuck whining about it (I’ve been there plenty of times), just get out there and change things. There are a lot of resources here, take advantage of them.