Halle Kilman’s life goal has been simple: live up to the title of “boss lady.” Graduating from the Theatre Studies program in fall 2018, Kilman came to UCF in 2015 determined to find a career in the performing arts. And now, with the phrase emblazoned in sparkles across her graduation cap, she’s ready to take on New York City as just that: a boss lady.
Growing up as a performer in South Florida, Kilman took one tour of UCF and the School of Performing Arts and decidedly chose to attend. “The campus is beautiful,” she comments. “There’s such positive energy, and even when I came into the Theatre building for the first time – there was something magical about it.” But she ended high school with a dilemma. “It was always theatre,” she nods, “but after high school graduation, it became a matter of what I wanted to do in theatre.” She considered the other theatre degrees offered – Stage Management, Design and Technology, Entertainment Management – and then theatre management came up. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is really cool,’” she says.
The Theatre Studies program is designed for students pursuing careers related to theatre, but not necessarily on the stage. “It really is what you make it, and you can make it what you want it to be.” The program offers a foundation of theatre knowledge and history with the opportunity to take related courses that will direct a student toward their unique career path including choosing an interdisciplinary minor and participating in professional internships to complement their studies.
Kilman recognizes three UCF faculty members for helping guide her along the way: Jim Brown, Judi Siegfried and Claudia Lynch. “I’m so grateful for them. They each helped me in different ways.” In a variety of courses, the three helped Kilman with motivation, encouragement, and reflection. “When things were hard, they would say, ‘Look at all the things you’ve accomplished!’ Be proud of yourself.” In Brown’s and Siegfried’s courses, Kilman felt she improved her confidence and self-esteem. “I really own who I am now.”
Internships are often where students in the Theatre Studies program find their passion. Kilman knew she needed to make the most of her time between semesters, and she certainly did. With a general management internship in the summer of 2017 at the famed theatrical management company, Richards/Climan, Inc., Kilman found herself working on big-name Broadway shows like Anastasia, M. Butterfly and Children of a Lesser God. “That was the turning point,” she says. “From then on, there was nothing else. My mind was set: I’m going into general management, and from there, I’m going to be a producer, which is my end goal.” She nods. “I’m so appreciative for that experience and everyone who helped me get there – it was life-changing.” Kilman was given the opportunity to return in the fall for the opening night of M. Butterfly. “I was there that whole week, putting the finishing touches on opening night gifts,” she remembers. “It was surreal.”
With her career goals in sight, Kilman enrolled in Lynch’s independent study for students interested in producing and general company management in commercial theater. Kilman cites Lynch’s knowledge, stories and guidance from working on Broadway as invaluable to helping her launch into the industry. The course became a close group of friends who are able to relate and share dreams and experiences. “It’s so great to see your friends succeeding, getting cast or internships. People at this school succeed, and it’s incredible being able to watch them do it. The faculty are so supportive of everyone chasing their dreams.”
In addition to her UCF mentors, Kilman found two industry professionals to mentor her in New York: Jenny Gersten, a legendary producer and name in the business; and Tamar Climan, co-founder of Richards/Climan, Inc. and now independent producer. “It’s so important to make your voice and ideas heard. These two mentors have really helped me with that. They taught me how to be a boss lady.”
Spending her previous summer in New York meeting industry professionals and attending events paid off for Kilman – she met Randy Weiner, playwright of the off-Broadway The Donkey Show and producer of Sleep No More, an immersive theater production. Kilman contacted Weiner’s associate, Asher Young, in early 2018 when searching for another management summer internship. “I thought it was impossible to top last summer’s experience,” she states, “but after interviewing with them, Randy responded with, ‘I am so excited to have you working with us!’”
Weiner had opened Remarkable Entertainment around the same time, meaning the team consisted only of himself, a CFO, two creative producers, and Kilman. “Because the company had just launched, I was fortunate enough to be in a lot of the action.”
At the end of the summer, Remarkable offered Kilman a position as a creative producer after she graduates in December.
Creative producers manage budgets, oversee marketing and branding, cast shows, search for designers and other creative personnel, track orders for props and costume pieces, and more. “I enjoy the administrative tasks, but I equally love the creative part of it. It’s fun. You really get to see it all come together.”
“To sum it up in a few words, it’s getting things done.” In the immersive theatre setting, the creative producer also completes the roles and responsibilities of a general manager. “To my knowledge, there isn’t really an immersive general manager out there,” Kilman comments. Her face lights up a bit: “Maybe I’ll be one of the first!”
The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies is designed to offer a thorough foundation in theatre while providing flexibility and opportunity for interdisciplinary study with a required minor. Upon graduation, UCF students can choose to pursue further education or enter the job market with a skill set unique to their goals. Learn more about theatre majors, minors and courses at theatre.ucf.edu.