The best way former 806 W. Ohio Street resident Brian Ludmer can sum up his Illini experience is this:
"The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is where I earned my college education, but that house is where I gained my college experience."
Now the manager for technical production at Universal Studios Hollywood, Ludmer was an undergraduate theatre major at Illinois, which meant spending more time in the Krannert basement than anywhere else on campus.
He also put in a lot of time at the place he called home during his sophomore and junior years. "Nestled amongst several fraternities and sororities and overstuffed with theatre majors, this houseat 806 W. Ohio became an unofficial fraternity — co-ed, of course — and the center of social engagement for the theatre department from 2003 to 2005.
“Krannert is a very special place. I am eternally grateful for the instructors and fellow students I had the opportunity to work with during my time at U of I. The quality of the education I received set me on the path to where I am now and I am fortunate to be able to maintain many ongoing relationships with several of my former teachers — many now retired — and fellow classmates.
"In the 11 years since graduating, I have moved in and out of other educational institutions as a staff member and instructor. In fact, my second job after leaving Champaign-Urbana, and the job the that brought me out to California, was working as the assistant technical director for the theatre department at California State University, at Long Beach.
"Part of my responsibility in this adjunct faculty position was to teach graduate level courses in AutoCAD and computer drafting for the entertainment industry, as well as undergraduate courses in stagecraft.
"With minimal professional experience under my belt, I had to rely exclusively on the training I received at U of I. I recycled materials and lessons I had only recently completed myself. Nonetheless, I felt confident and, in at least a couple of cases, I must have been successful as many of those students have subsequently moved on to successful careers in the industry.
"Just prior to working for NBC Universal, I found myself working again in education, but this time at the high school level. Though teaching was only a portion of my responsibilities and I had been out of the education game for a few years, I did manage to teach courses in stagecraft — lighting, sound, scenery construction and best practices for theatre and live events — and once again revisited the tools and techniques I was originally introduced to at the U of I Theatre Department and Krannert Center.
"In the end, I am grateful not only for the high level of education I received and for the professional connections, but also for teaching me how to teach and ultimately how to learn. Those lessons are truly invaluable."