IN HER OWN WORDS: Amanda Ann Casterline 2016-17 Student of the Year Department of Theatre & Film
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Stuttgart, (West) Germany where I lived until I was almost 1. I was raised in Dallas, Texas until 3 and then grew up in North Pole and Fairbanks, Alaska until 23. I moved to Audubon, Pennsylvania until 33 when I decided to come back to Fairbanks.
Why did you choose to study at UAF? I chose to study at UAF because it was more affordable to come back to Fairbanks, live with my family, and help them out while I was going to school.
When did you first decide to pursue a degree in Theatre? Two years before moving back to Alaska my grandmother was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. It was her encouragement to follow my dreams that got me thinking about what type of career I would enjoy. I looked at what would be a good fit given I love to sew, have drawn costumes and characters ever since I was in elementary school, and am drawn to creative environments. Theatre seemed like the perfect fit. If it wasn’t for Grandma encouraging me to get back into art and telling me how proud she was of me every time I would make a costume for conventions, then I would have stayed working as a department manager at Walmart.
What first attracted you to Theatre? When I was really young, I saw shows in Philadelphia with my aunt and realized how drawn in to the performances I was. I then started trying to figure out how it was all done. At Lathrop High School, I took an amazing semester of acting and tried out for every play as a way to get over my extreme fear of being in front of people. It didn’t matter that I was an outcast in school because in theatre I was just accepted. That acceptance, openness, and creation of art keeps me attracted to Theatre.
What experiences at UAF have contributed to your academic and artistic success? The faculty in both the Department of Theatre & Film and the Department of English have all taught fun and educational classes that I’ve loved taking; they were also very supportive when I suffered from kidney failure. Everything I learned in classes contributed to my artistic success. I’ve also learned so much taking classes outside of theatre which help me look at scripts and come up with designs with a fresh head. I don’t think I would have felt so prepared for the world outside of UAF if it hadn’t been for such an amazing faculty.
Tell us about your most influential theatre projects while at UAF. All of the projects I have worked on while at UAF have added to my skills and changed me a bit, even starting with my first play at UAF, Speech and Debate, where I volunteered to be house manager. I felt so welcomed in the department.
I’ve been a member of the Student Drama Association since my first year as a theatre major. Making an event like Famous for Fifteen successful with the help of a great team was the culmination of what we are taught in the department. After two years of focusing on Famous for Fifteen it seemed like a natural move to run for president of SDA. It was my goal to encourage the club to produce quality pieces that we could be proud to have our name on. What I have loved about SDA is that it’s an outlet for students to put their class lessons to use in real world applications.
What are your plans for after graduation? My plan is to attend graduate school for costume design and to work in theatre more. The past four years have been some of the best years of my life. I’ve grown in confidence, skill, and gained respect for not only my own work but those around me. Everything we experience becomes a part of who we are and creating theatre and film lets us bring those experiences to life. Even if the audience doesn’t quite get that as a designer I chose a color based on how it made me feel, it still makes them experience something and help them forget about their troubles for a short time.