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“Since July, I have been employed as a scenic carpentry apprentice at the Walnut Street Theatre here in Philly,” said Jeremy Vreeken.
"In my position as an apprentice, I build scenery and set pieces for all of the plays produced during this season, which will number somewhere around 20 by the time I leave in May.”
Every day, Vreeken works with several apprentices and professional carpenters to hone his skills. “On any given day I might work with fabric, foam, wood, metal, lighting, and sound equipment, or I might drive a truck full of completed pieces from our shop to the main theatre building,” said Vreeken. “In the past six months I have learned a new city, furthered my technical theatre skill set, made new friends, and have begun the adjustment into post-student life.”
Vreeken’s experience working in Dordt’s theatre department helped to prepare him for his position at the Walnut Street Theatre. “During my time at Dordt, I worked in the theatre department's Scene Shop, took several theatre arts classes, and worked on almost every production in some way,” said Vreeken.
“Because Dordt's Theatre Department was small and developing in many ways, I was allowed to play a large role in several productions and learned to self-direct, problem solve, and even lead teams of my fellow students while working in the shop or on the stage. In my current position, I use all of the technical skills I learned at Dordt, as well as the interpersonal skills of leadership, communication, and teamwork necessary to successfully mount a production.”
Vreeken commented that he appreciated the value that his English major added to his life. “I appreciate the encouragement to value my major for what it added to my life and worldview, and not strictly for its marketability,” said Vreeken.
“During my time in college, I was constantly encouraged to ask questions. ‘How and why’ are important questions for students of every major at every college, and I am most grateful for the emphasis my education placed on asking for the ‘why’ behind whatever we were doing.
From design and construction in the theatre, to reading and creative writing in the classroom, to conversations and relationships in coffee shops and around campus, a focus on the big picture and an awareness of perspectives and my own view on things has been very valuable to me.”
Vreeken said he looks forward to continuing to work in technical theatre. He is also considering getting a master’s degree.
“But, my plans are open to revision,” he said.