Senior stage manager prepares for a career in theater
by Logan Beck
Senior theater major Samantha Dugan toured Temple for the first time as a 17-year-old, on a cold, rainy day. Despite the weather, she knew she wanted it to become her home.
In high school, Dugan looked to theater as the place she could truly be her “overactive” and “crazy” self and be celebrated for it, as well as an outlet to channel her energy into something constructive and beautiful.
“Even though I knew majoring in theater was going to spark the 'what's your backup plan?' conversation, I knew I had to stick to my guns and find success in a career where I had already found success in my happiness,” Dugan said.
Up until her last semester of high school, Dugan was set on majoring in a scientific field, or international relations, convinced that it was the “right” thing to do.
“I talked it over with my parents and they supported my decision to pursue theater, because they knew that if I'm passionate enough about something, I'm the only thing that can get in my way,” Dugan said.
Four years later, she would become the Secretary of Temple Theaters Sidestage Season, and the Treasurer of Alpha Psi Omega, the honors theater fraternity on campus. In addition, she spends four days a week working at Saxby’s in Rittenhouse Square, making free time a rarity for Dugan.
From the minute she busted through the Annenberg Atrium doors, Dugan has been building her resume, recognizing that preparing for her career meant more than just taking classes.
Her freshman year, she worked in the Temple Theaters box office, and that summer she worked in the education department with Philadelphia Young Playwrights. The following summer, she went on to work for the Ticket Office Associate for the Berkshire Theatre Group in Massachusetts. This past summer, Dugan interned for the same company as their assistant company manager.
Dugan’s work did not stop there. Throughout her time at Temple, Dugan also served as an assistant stage manager on one Temple Theaters production, the stage manager on seven Temple Theaters productions, and an assistant stage manager on two professional productions downtown.
Her success and involvement at Temple would not go unrecognized. Dugan was fortunate enough to receive the Alan Kosher Scholarship through the theater department.
“Alan Kosher was a Temple grad who was the Company Manager for The Lion King tour for years,” Dugan said. “He created this scholarship so that every year one theater student with a focus in management could intern with a Disney national tour for a week, all expenses paid.”
She would go on to spend the week interning for the national tour of Newsies. In Cincinnati, Dugan got the chance to observe company management, see Newsies for free, and shadow the stage managers during the show.
“I also got to attend a company cocktail party with some Disney executives, so it's safe to say that I had no idea what to do with my hands--but the drinks and food were free,” Dugan said.
From the Newsies experience alone, Dugan learned a lot of valuable skills that she will take with her, including the importance of a good reputation, having a strong sense of trust in the stage crew, and the desire to embark on a tour despite the difficult lifestyle.
“In the performing arts, you have to keep your career in perspective,” Dugan said. “We get to play pretend for a living. I'm not a police officer putting her life on the line every single day. At the end of the day, I get to make other people happy through my art.”
Dugan’s colorful college experience has taught her many lessons about her intended career path, allowing her to enlighten other students about how to be successful in the industry.
Her advice to students is to work hard and go after opportunities, but to avoid being spread too thin.
“If there's a class that you want to take that doesn't exist here, make it,” Dugan said. "I did. Temple is an amazing place to create opportunities for yourself. If you go through this department only doing your four contracts and passing your classes, you really missed out on a world of opportunities.”
Dugan intends to become an established, successful stage manager, wherever life may take her, while being herself, unapologetically. She has accept a job with Royal Caribbean Cruises which begins in mid-May.
“I want to build a reputation of being hard working but also someone who people enjoy working with,” Dugan said. “I think a trap people fall into is that they can't be themselves while they work, which is something I work really hard to avoid.”