‘Hectic but never boring’
Madison’s Sarah Marty engages with all things theater
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.