‘Hec­tic but never bor­ing’

Madi­son’s Sarah Marty en­gages with all things the­ater

Wisconsin Gazette - - Opinion - By Michael Muck­ian Con­tribut­ing writer

When it comes to life lessons, Madi­son the­ater im­pre­sario and ed­u­ca­tor Sarah Marty pe­ri­od­i­cally asks her­self: Who are you? What do you do? And why does it mat­ter?

She asks so she can roadmap her ex­cep­tion­ally busy life.

So far, it’s work­ing, she says, and she has yet to lose her way.

As fac­ulty as­so­ci­ate in the­ater and arts ad­min­is­tra­tion for the Uni­ver­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son Di­vi­sion of Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies, Marty just fin­ished teach­ing “Hamil­ton: A Cul­tural Rev­o­lu­tion.” The on­line sum­mer course tack­led the his­tor­i­cal and the­atri­cal im­pli­ca­tions of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-win­ning hip-hop mu­si­cal.

The course fol­lowed on the heels of Marty’s role as pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor for the 18th an­nual Madi­son Early Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, pre­sented in July by the UW Arts In­sti­tute.

The week­long se­ries of con­certs and work­shops ex­plored the mu­sic of Baro­queera Spain in honor of the 400th an­niver­sary of the pub­li­ca­tion of Miguel de Cer­vantes’ Don Quixote, con­sid­ered his­tory’s first “mod­ern” novel.

In Au­gust, Marty was in­volved in a pro­duc­tion of the mu­si­cal Man of La Man­cha by Four Sea­sons The­atre. Marty co-founded the mu­si­cal the­ater pro­duc­tion com­pany and serves as pro­duc­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor.

Marty was able to take time — af­ter grad­ing a pile of “Hamil­ton” pa­pers — for dis­cus­sion and re­flec­tion on why she does what she does.

Nei­ther takes promi­nence. I teach credit and non­credit courses in mu­sic, the­ater and arts man­age­ment, all of which are re­lated to my ed­u­ca­tional back­ground and in­formed by my arts ex­pe­ri­ences.

Stu­dents from credit classes get a chance to work back­stage at events and shows — ap­plied learn­ing with real-world ex­pe­ri­ence.

Life­long learn­ers may come see a show or event that I’m work­ing on and gain a broader un­der­stand­ing of the creative process.

For the past decade, I’ve been part of the UW Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies pro­gram, moving from an outreach spe­cial­ist to fac­ulty as­so­ci­ate. I served as the arts and hu­man­i­ties pro­gram area di­rec­tor for var­i­ous ef­forts, in­clud­ing the Wis­con­sin High School The­atre Fes­ti­val and the Na­tional Com­mu­nity The­atre Di­rec­tors’ Con­fer­ence and have taught nu­mer­ous re­lated courses.

In ad­di­tion, I’ve served as the pro­duc­tion man­ager for large-scale cam­pus events, in­clud­ing work­ing with the Cen­ter for Healthy Minds on both the 2013 and 2016 vis­its of His Ho­li­ness the 14th Dalai Lama. I also work on the UW Var­sity Band Spring Con­cert each year.

Out­side of my day job, I’ve been part of the the­ater com­mu­nity since I in­terned with CTM founder Nancy Thurow in 1997. That work has in­cluded serv­ing on the Madi­son The­atre Guild board of di­rec­tors from 2009 to 2011, act­ing as gen­eral man­ager of Madi­son’s For­ward The­ater from 2009 to 2014, and work­ing in a va­ri­ety of ca­pac­i­ties with Madi­son Opera and CTM, as well as my work with Four Sea­sons The­atre.

Why so much? There are some things you have to do and are there some things that you want to do. The last decade has in­cluded projects in both cat­e­gories. It can get hec­tic at times, but it’s never bor­ing.

This fall I’ve joined the fac­ulty at UWWhite­wa­ter teach­ing arts man­age­ment courses in the Col­lege of the Arts. I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing in the class­room on a full-time ba­sis work­ing with stu­dents from a range of ma­jors and with fac­ulty across the arts depart­ment and in the School of Busi­ness and Eco­nom­ics.

Many things. For in­stance, every­thing and ev­ery­one is net­worked. You never know when some­one you met years ago will come back around, so one of the best things you can do is to keep notes.

And make time in your day for your artis­tic prac­tice.

It can be easy to get buried in grantwrit­ing and grad­ing pa­pers and ig­nore the creative side of your­self.

Mak­ing mu­sic, read­ing poetry or writ­ing for even just 10 minutes can be a good re­minder of why you’re do­ing the work that you’re do­ing.

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