Claire Friday is where she is today — serving A-list clients out of her own Vegas-based live event production business — thanks in no small part to the teachings of a few favorite UI faculty members.
“The three years of my MFA training in theatre and stage management were some of the most life-changing years I’ve ever experienced,” says the Class of 2008 grad. “Not only was it baptism-by-fire, but it also taught me a lot about who I am and prepared me for a professional career that has taken me to some incredible places.
“My advisor and mentor, Karen Quisenberry, taught me that you can take the skills you learn in theatrical stage management and essentially dominate the production world in any avenue.
“In my opinion, production professionals who come from a theatrical background are some of the most versatile people in entertainment and event producing. We essentially understand experiences and shows with the knowledge that everything you do in live events and entertainment has the arch of a theatrical show — with some additional details and enhancements thrown in.
“Karen was instrumental in helping me understand this concept and for teaching me that the sky’s the limit. I’ve been able to expound on my stage management skills and ultimately become a live event producer and production consultant for some top clients like Sundance Film Festival. I wouldn’t have been able to realize this without Karen’s encouragement.
“Another member of the faculty who inspired me was Maestro Eduardo Diazmuñoz of the opera division of the School of Music. Working with him enhanced my love of opera and classical music.
“In 2007, I was stage manager on Leonard Bernstein’s ‘MASS,’ which will go down in history as one of the greatest achievements that the departments of music and theatre collaboratively produced.
“That production was pivotal in my career, and has helped me achieve some wonderful milestones just by understanding the complexity of pulling many details together and teaching me how to produce a work from the ground up.
“Eduardo and Karen taught me that you have to focus on every single detail consistently to be on top of your game. I think that knowledge paid off.”