Katie Stodd (The DreamYard Project Staff)
My name is Katie Stodd and I was born in Moline, Illinois. It’s on the Northwest side of the state, right next to Mississippi—almost in Iowa. I was brought up in a little tiny town called Geneseo, about twenty minutes outside of Moline. I went to a college in Northeastern Iowa called Luther and got my degree in vocal performance there, and then moved to Minneapolis. At that point I was auditioning, acting, and doing some music direction and one day I just decided it was now or never. It was time, so I made the move to New York in 2005 and I’ve been here for almost eight years now. When I first got here, I did some Shakespeare up in Monmouth, Maine and a few small shows in the city. I did some touring and I started to get into more music direction, sitting on the other side of the table. About three years ago I decided to go to grad school and got my Masters in Theater Education from NYU. This last year was my first year teaching and I teach at DreamYard Prep. I’m so happy they hired me when I came out of NYU because it’s been such a great experience. I teach theater, a required 9th grade class called Theater Integration, in which I’m using theater to bolster the ELA and global curriculum being taught. DreamYard is an arts-focused school, so students declare an arts major by 11th grade. I have the privilege of teaching and directing the theatre majors as well.
My parents are both musicians; my mom teaches flute at a college in the area and she plays in a symphony, and my dad taught band for thirty years. My parents always say, “You guys can do anything you want!” But the joke in my family is, “We didn’t have a chance.” We all knew it’d be something musical. I started playing piano when I was about four years old, and played French horn all the way through college. My mom taught us kids the flute when we were little and singing was just a part of what we learned growing up. It sounds really corny and cheesy, but I remember going to see The Sound of Music when I was about four and I was thought, “I could do that.” And then I just sort of continued on from there.
It’s so funny because I was always terrified of directing. I’ve done a lot of music direction, so I work really well collaborating, but the idea of having to give birth to something from its conception was mortifying to me for a long time. Teaching has made me have to be a confident director. I stopped auditioning years ago because the lifestyle became too stressful, but doing this production has really made me remember that I need that part of theatre too. Just living on one side of the table isn’t enough balance for me.
Going into Tempest rehearsals I had no clue what to expect, but it’s been really cool; just the amount of joy that everyone has in the room all the time is pretty incredible. I’m getting married in April so I’ll probably be saying farewell to New York for a while, so this production is making me think about my journey as a performer. Being able to perform on the Delacorte stage is a really great climax to my time in New York City.