Alum and faculty member Katie Royer shares her story of falling love with Berridge 13 years ago.
Ian: Tell me a little about yourself! Where did you grow up? Where do you live now, and what do you do?
Katie: I grew up in Elgin Illinois- quite a small little town outside of Chicago. I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for the past three years and I do a lot of writing, producing, directing and sort of making my own creative projects. Oh, and I also act! I really love to just explore anything that seems in line with what I want to do creatively with my life. Sometimes that can include actually working on a film but I also really find pleasure in the more "normal" jobs out there too. I worked for many years at a local comic book shop alongside making the occasional short film.
Ian: How did you get started with Berridge?
Katie: I first became involved with Berridge thirteen years ago. Someone came to my high school and gave a presentation about a program where we’d be able to spend a summer in France learning about acting and theatre. I didn’t even know something like that even existed. I convinced my parents to let me go that first summer and ended up wanting to go back the next summer too, and then the next, and the next. I just kept continuing to return and eventually became involved as a staff member. I think I had about eight different job titles with Berridge since starting with them.
Ian: Did you already know you wanted to do theatre?
Katie: I had always wanted to do acting for film but I think I forgot about that at some point during adolescence. We had a drama club but it wasn’t really my scene and I was really more interested in film, which they didn’t offer. I also had this immense desire to travel and as soon as I saw Berridge, I knew that was my opportunity to combine the two!
Katie, as seen in the 2014 short film, "The Guest," directed by Berridge Alum Arnaud Weissenberger.
Ian: What about Berridge made you want to keep coming back?
I didn’t realize that I was going to keep coming back until about the 3rd or 4th summer. I never took for granted how special it was to spend three weeks in France because I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to make it back that next summer- but thankfully I managed to keep coming back. Every summer was different at Berridge so it was the constant curiosity of wondering what special moment I would find myself experiencing next that kept me coming back. There are of course the easy answers as to why I kept going; France is beautiful, the food is great, and so on, but really it’s something much more than that. The faculty and students make this program what it is and the friendships and collaborations that happen there really were life-changing.
Ian: You’re now a Berridge Faculty member! What is your role?
Yes! So all of us on staff at Berridge usually have a variety of roles and last summer I had the pleasure of managing our kitchen! We place a big emphasis on food here and it was really enjoyable to be right at the heart of that. I wanted to make everything as fresh, healthy and appealing as possible. I kind of knew my way around the local markets and bakeries from spending so many previous summers with Berridge so I was able to choreograph our daily pickup of materials and create some pretty unique options! I’ll always secretly pass some extra food on to students if they’re poking around the kitchen...just don’t tell. Besides the kitchen I do a lot of alumni outreach and support the teaching faculty during the program as needed!
Ian: I’m sure there were many, but could you tell me about one favorite moment that happened for you at Berridge?
I could pick from several of course, but there are some really great moments I’ve had witnessing other people creating art. One of our movement faculty, Dan Milne, did a fantastic piece a few years ago. He waited until after dark at the Chateau and the students were inside with the lights on- they would dance on the balconies and at the windows so from outside it was such a beautiful sight. It was like watching the silhouettes of angels dancing in the moonlight. Seeing something like that is a bit hard to describe yet so affecting when you’re there in the moment.
Ian: We’re here to inspire the next generation of artists. How do you (as an artist and faculty member) hope to do that this summer?
I think the next generation of artists are already fairly inspired. It's important that we hold the space for them to find their voice, explore their minds, and push them to discover however it is they want to be alive and change the world.
Something I’ve noticed about the younger generation is that they’re very in tune with society compared to when I was a teenager. I think there are more socially conscious young people and I think it’s really important for us to listen to that. Something that Berridge offers is the ability to try multiple things out. Whether it’s poetry, painting or acting, we’re here to help you find your voi