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Her first day at Moravian College, Thyra Hartshorn ’91 dragged her roommate to the Arena Theatre to sign up for a production of The Damask Cheek. She already was hooked on theater, but did not believe it could ever be more than her hobby—until her mentor, former English professor Jack Ramsey, suggested otherwise. Ramsey told her she could make a living doing theater, and his words changed her life. With his support, went on to direct A.R. Gurney’s Another Antigone as part of her senior Honors project.
“My Honors project gave me the confidence that I could work in theater and move up the ladder,” said Hartshorn. “It was eye-opening to be the full decision-maker as the play’s director. It gave me insight into a director’s needs and made me a better stage manager. That’s when I really began to learn the many aspects of theater production.”
After graduation, she turned to Doc Ramsey again, seeking his advice about whether to accept a fellowship at the University of California Irvine to work on her M.F.A. He provided perspective, suggesting that a graduate degree in stage management would allow her to do anything she wanted.
Fifteen years later, she’s going strong. “I've been fortunate to be able to tour all over the world with great companies such as San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre," she says. As director of production at Oregon Ballet Theatre, she helps bring to life the company’s productions of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Nicolo Fonte's Bolero, and others with lighting, wardrobe, set, and sound. And now that Jack Ramsey, professor emeritus of drama, has relocated to the Seattle area, Hartshorn hopes to see him in the audience of her next production.
"My Honors project gave me the confidence that I could work in theater and move up the ladder."