Alumni Spotlight: Kirsten Mulvey (THAR '91 and M.A. COMM '98)

Graduate dedicates life to supporting local theater and MU theater students

Kirsten Mulvey graduated from Marquette in 1991 with a double major in theater and English. In 1998, she returned to MU for a masters in communications. Kirsten is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and has worked for a number of Milwaukee arts organizations. For the past six years, she has been the managing director of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. She has always wanted to work in theatre and says the smell of the theatre is one of the perks of her job.

Kirsten talks about her experiences working in theater and mentoring MU theater students

1. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. Why has it lasted 40 years?

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) produces “good stories, told well” and Milwaukee audiences have come to rely on the consistent quality of the writing and the production values. MCT is also committed to supporting the local talent pool, hiring actors, directors, and designers almost exclusively from Wisconsin. Long-time patrons say that they love feeling that they know the artists involved in our productions and watching them grow in their careers.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy the collaborative nature of theater. I think there is often a perception of theater being a magnet for people with immense egos, but I would say that is very rare – at least at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. From our staff, to our board of directors, to our artists, there is a real sense of community and team work. Everyone rolls up their sleeves to do what is best for the production or for the Company.

I am responsible for the business of the theatre – the fundraising, marketing, payroll, accounting, office management and working with our board of directors and volunteers. All of the real glamorous stuff!

3. How has your Marquette education impacted your life ?

The emphasis of the MU Theatre program is on training well-rounded theatre professionals. Even if you are convinced that you want to be an actor, at Marquette you will be required to swing a hammer to build a set, sew costumes, learn lighting design, mop the floors and tap dance! My experience in the MU Theatre department prepared me to wear many hats as I run a professional theatre company. MY MU education enabled me to see the big picture of what goes into creating a production from the ground up. It has also made me an educated consumer as I contract other theatre professionals, or evaluate how the work we are doing at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre stacks up to other companies’ work.

My years at Marquette also solidified my commitment to living and working in the city. Being on an urban campus, MU students have easy access to all of the cultural opportunities that Milwaukee has to offer. Even as an undergraduate, I took advantage of Marquette’s proximity to professional theatre (and all Milwaukee theatre companies have affordable student tickets), free festivals and Gallery Night.

4. How do you mentor MU students?

At Milwaukee Chamber Theatre we have made a commitment to nurturing the next generation of theatre professionals – and theatre goers. Several years ago, we began a University Collaboration Series where we produced at least one show each season in partnership with a local university theater department. In the past five years, two of these collaborations have been with Marquette. MCT throws open the doors to MU theatre majors and provides professional experience on stage, back stage and in the administrative office. In addition, MU faculty members are frequent guest artists at MCT designing sets, costumes and lights, which provides theatre students an opportunity to work alongside their teachers and mentors in a professional setting. It also provides Milwaukee audiences the opportunity to see the amazing work of the highly skilled MU Theater faculty.

I am always extremely proud of the work ethic, talent, professionalism and communication skills of the MU students and alums that have worked at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. I’m also thrilled that in August of this year Alex Coddington (Comm ’15) will be joining the MCT staff as Audience Development Coordinator, as well as Assistant Director on two of this season’s productions.