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Natalie Dollison’s stage tech classes during her undergraduate days in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Theatre and Dance came in handy.
The senior stage technician, a 2005 UW graduate, majored in theater with a focus on playwriting, but she took a little detour on her way to the theater. She took a job backstage and taught herself how to do her job as a sound technician.
“When I came into this job, I didn’t really know how to turn on a soundboard,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about anything. I got hired in the summer, so I bought an audio dictionary and watched training videos on YouTube. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but four years in I feel pretty good about it.”
Indeed, four years after hiring on, Dollison has earned national recognition for her abilities not only behind a soundboard but all around the theater. During the summer, she served as stage manager for the National Audio Theatre Festival (NATF) in West Plains, Missouri. The event includes workshops on audio theater as well as the live production of several scripts.
This marked her third year of participation with NATF, a group she found via the Internet when she was looking for professional development. In 2008, her first year, she worked as an assistant director and voice actor. Last year she worked as a sampler artist, who runs recorded sound effects from a laptop computer. Now, she’s up for election to NATF’s board of directors, which she says is validation for her efforts not only with NATF but in her job at UW.*
“I’ve only been doing this festival for three summers, and some people have been doing this festival for 30 years. I felt good about that,” she says.
Growing up in Osage, Wyoming, she poured herself into whatever theater she could find in her corner of northeast Wyoming. Since coming to Laramie, she helped establish the Centennial Community Theatre and the Albany County Theatre, has been a scenic artist in more than 30 productions with those two entities, and has won two acting awards at the annual Rocky Mountain Theater Awards conference.
Her focus turned to writing plays, then to working behind the scenes. Dollison says it didn’t matter, just as long as she was working in theater.
“Neither of my parents wanted me to devote my life to theater, and many teachers said it would be more practical do something with my writing besides theater, but when you want to do something, you will find a way to do it,” she says.
“That’s exactly what this job is for me. I will not wait tables, I will not be a server, I will work in theater. I’ve never lost that train of thought. I work in theater because I have to and because I want to.”
Learn more about the UW Theatre & Dance Department. Content courtesy of UWyo Magazine.