Behind the Scenes with Kelly MacLeod

By Kayla Janssen

Kelly MacLeod, who has quite a bit of patience, leads a busy life. She teaches several classes, like speech, theater, and screen writing, on campus at DSU. When she was asked what her favorite class to teach was, she replied, “Tough question, I enjoy teaching acting class because I get to see shy people step out of their comfort zone.” She also mentioned that she taught English, but she had a look on her face that said, “I like English, but don’t particularly enjoy teaching it.” On top of being a professor, she is also actively involved in her passion, theater.

Eight years ago, Kelly started her career here at Dakota State. “It all happened so fast. I interviewed on a Thursday, was hired on Friday, found an apartment on Saturday, moved Sunday, and started Monday.” At first, she was only directing plays, but with her degree, she had the opportunity to get a teaching job here on campus. “Luckily, the English department needed some help at the time,” she added. For her first year, she only taught part time. However, after that, she became full time and has been full time for the last seven years.

Not only has she worked as the play director here at DSU, she has also directed community plays and was even an actress in Denver. When asked how many shows she has done, Kelly pulled out a list, counted, and proceeded to say, “Oliver is my 23rd show.” Twenty-three shows may seem like a lot to some people, but not all of the plays were DSU productions. The count also included children’s theater performances. With children’s theater, she explained that college students would put on performances for children. Not only has she directed 23 shows, she has also designed 16 shows during her college career.

Although directing plays can be enjoyable, challenges do arise. Like any activity, creating a schedule that works for everyone is difficult. The cast members for this fall’s production ranged in age from little children to grown adults; therefore working with everyone to find times was a challenge, but Kelly made sure that the schedule was accommodating to all. With a large cast, personality conflicts also arise. “Sometimes you have to encourage cast members. Sometimes you have to get others to back off a bit.” When asked what advice she would give to someone new to the theater world, she said, “Regardless of what you’re doing, it’s a team effort. You have to give 100 percent. No matter how big or small your part is, or whether you are backstage, every single role is vital.”

Be sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for information on Kelly’s next theater performance that will be happening this spring.

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