Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Marie Cisco

Get the student perspective!

I am an artist of many interests, inspirations, and ambitions; my hunger for the work keeps me motivated.  I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and traveled to Chicago for my Undergraduate Degree in Theatre Arts from The Theatre School at DePaul University.  Since completing my undergrad degree in June of 2010, I have been working in the city if Chicago as a Teaching Artist, Director, Stage Manager, and Arts Administrator.

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

Before coming to Columbia, my work mostly included being a Teaching Artist, pursuing a career as a Stage Director, and maintaining balance. Immediately after school, I mostly focused on Stage Managing with MPAACT Theater here in Chicago. My work as a Stage Manager helped to shape and guide me as an artist. I had the chance to observe and learn, while also playing a crucial part in the development of the productions.  Though I enjoyed my work as an SM I realized I wanted  to be more artistically involved in the productions I was working on and the art I made in general.

I’ve always been a visual person with a good grasp on storytelling, and I believe that is why Directing feels so natural to me.  I was first given the opportunity to tell stories three-dimensionally in undergrad, and there it began. Bitten by the bug.  I have directed two professional mainstage shows in the past two years and will be working on my third this Fall. The first show I worked on, “Blackademics” by Idris Goodwin, was truly a rewarding experience full of lessons on how I make art and ways in which to grow in it. I am truly looking forward to beginning rehearsals on my upcoming show, “Warm on the Coolin Board” by Shepsu Aahku; we recently workshopped the show and after that process I believe it, too, will be a rewarding experience.

I also have been working as a teaching artist for the past three years in various Chicago Public High Schools.  I primarily teach Theatre Aesthetics and Technical Theatre with various organizations such as, MPAACT, Steppenwolf Theatre, Changing Worlds, and After School Matters.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

After completing my undergrad I knew I wanted to pursue a Masters degree, but I was not completely sure which area I wanted to study.  After working professionally as a theatre artist for a couple of years I soon began to realize I was interested in various aspects of performance and ways in which to tell stories.  I initially began looking into directing programs, but after working on several productions I realized how important it is for a director to be able to include different elements into a show and have those elements communicate seamlessly. I have many friends in the industry who attended Columbia and they are all well-versed in their fields and enjoyed their experience here. After reading about the Interdisciplinary Arts Program and Columbia, it immediately felt like a perfect match for me. The focus on the arts, amount of resources, and respect for the craft that Columbia offers are what drew me in.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

I am starting rehearsals for MPAACT Theatre’s fall Production “Warm on the Coolin Board.” This play explores the relationships between loved ones lost and continuing legacies with those living. I am excited to dive into this work and explore the possibilities of telling this story.

I am also working on co-writing a Solo performance piece that focuses on Genital Mutilation and the de-Goddessing of women in South Africa.


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