Emily Harper '20

Photo of Emily Harper ‘20


  • Technical theatre major from Nashville, IL

  • Stage manager for McKendree’s production of As You Like It and Legally Blonde

  • Deck manager for The Importance of Being Earnest

  • Theatre crew for The Laramie Project, Green Bird, and Curtains

  • Co-president of Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society

  • Named to the Dean’s List

  • Studied abroad at Roehampton University in South West London

  • Track and field team

By Stephanie (Coartney) Dulaney '10


Senior Emily Harper ’20 loves participating in theater productions, but she never expected to make a career out of it until she came to McKendree. The one-of-a-kind opportunities she discovered led her from being a student worker in the university’s Hettenhausen Center for the Arts (the Hett) to becoming a stage manager in the area’s premier performance hall.

As a first-year student, Emily had just landed a part-time job at the Hett when she heard the Theatre Department was looking for stage hands for the play Curtains. “I did theatre all through high school, acting and helping with the sets, so I thought this would be a great way to transition back into being involved in the theatre,” she said.

Quotation Graphic"After being a stagehand for Curtains, I kind of fell in love all over again and ended up making technical theatre my major."

Emily’s love of the stage inspired her to seek out more opportunities at the Hett. Her eagerness for learning led her to become deck manager (or the backstage lead), and finally stage manager for multiple McKendree theatre department performances.  As stage manager, Emily takes notes during the rehearsal process and the production meetings and records where an actor should stand and when lighting and set changes should happen. On the day of the show, she manages from the booth, giving cues for every lighting effect, scene change, and sound cue as it happens.

Cast and Crew of "As You Like It"As part of her senior project, she even designed the set for this season’s play As You Like It, in addition to leading as stage manager. “I’m fully seeing what I had envisioned in a design and now it’s on a stage,” she said. “It’s the most incredible feeling. I feel very proud to have gotten to do something so large as my senior project.”

Last semester, Emily took a break from her work at the Hett to study abroad in a place steeped in a rich history of theatre: London. Apart from taking theatre classes in the birthplace of Shakespeare’s famous works, she toured eight countries and attended 14 West End productions, including Wicked and Mamma Mia. The experience was a theatre major’s dream come true.

Even after an incredible trip to London, Emily says the experience that’s had the most impact on her has been working at the Hett.  “It made me discover what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and that’s powerful,” she said. “After one semester of being involved in one theatre show, I felt so drawn by it. Now I want it to be the rest of my life.”

With so many memories at the Hett, she knows it will be hard to leave, but she can’t wait to take her love of theatre out into the world.

Quotation Graphic"I’ve been a stage hand, I’ve designed the lighting, I’ve designed the sets, and I’ve been the stage manager. I feel like I got a lot out of what my degree is in. I feel like I’ve made my mark at McKendree."


Learn more about McKendree University.



Make It McKendree