A Happy Heart
Alumna Katie Medford prepares for 2013 Rex Rabold Fellowship
Katie Medford knows what she loves — it’s acting, and no one is going to change that.
The University of Idaho alumna has been busy since graduating in 2011 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She spent the last nine months working with the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky. And Medford said acting, writing and building for the Tony Award-winning company made one thing abundantly clear — theatre is her calling.
“With all the hard work, long days, lack of sleep, doubt, tears, and fears, there was always a joy that sat in my gut,” she said. “This is what makes my heart happy.”
In January, Medford will begin her next heart-healthy challenge as the 2013 Rex Rabold Fellow.
The UI Department of Theatre Arts has an exclusive connection with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival through the Rex Rabold Fellowship. Rex Rabold graduated from the UI in 1976 with a Master of Arts and went on to work nine years at OSF. When he died in 1990, UI Faculty Emeritus Forrest Sears worked with OSF to get the fellowship established in Rabold’s honor. Medford is the 21st UI student to be selected as a fellowship recipient since the award was created in 1993.
Working at OSF and establishing those professional connections, Medford said, will be pivotal to future job prospects.
“The connection with UI and OSF, I think, is an amazing gift,” she said. “Giving someone this opportunity is a brilliant way for them to enter the professional world and create a relationship with such a prestigious theatre.”
The 10-month fellowship asks a lot from UI students as they are cast in multiple summer season productions. Medford has been cast in two productions and has three understudy roles in another. When not in rehearsal, Medford will receive hands-on experience working with stage crews — a lot of responsibility she said she’s already been accustomed to at ATL.
Apprentices with ATL have the opportunity to audition for the eight mainstage productions it puts on. Medford said those who weren’t in a particular show were then part of the crew — assisting stage managers, dressing actors, helping with wigs, and cleaning the stage before and after performances.
Apprentices also are required to work for three hours each day in other areas of the theatre, whether it is in the administrative offices, the costume shop or the scene shop.
“A typical day lasted anywhere between 10 to 14 hours,” Medford said. “If you had time off for some reason, you were either working on a side project or you were finding a place to sleep.”
Despite the time constraints, Medford said she was always encouraged to be involved in other group projects in which to pursue some of her own creative ideas.
Groupwork regularly involved devising new work. During a particular project, Medford’s group devised a play using only spoken word poetry. The show, Our Unspoken Word(s), took audiences into the daily life of a high school student, dealing with issues like bullying, academic success, sexuality, self-mutilation, problems at home, body image, and more.
“We wanted to create something that could reach out to the youth and remind them to speak out, be brave, and remember that it gets better.”
Even with many goals to attain each day, Medford said the company acted like a “well-oiled machine,” and worth ethic was high.
“You showed up, you did your work, you helped when you didn’t have to ... ” she said. “We were there to work, and no one would tolerate someone who whined.”
It’s that mentality that will drive her accomplishments at OSF, Medford said.
“OSF has been a dream for a long time, but a very intimidating dream,” Medford said. “Now I have a better understanding of the inner workings of a theatre company, and I feel like I can walk in with confidence and do the work without being intimidated.”