Northeastern student Matt Hosking is pursuing a double major in Khoury College of Computer Sciences and the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), studying Computer Science and Theatre. Through his classes, co-op experiences, and extracurriculars, he has had the opportunity to embrace the crossover and similarities between the two disciplines. He completed his first co-op at Central Square Theater (CST), and is about to begin his second co-op at Projector PSA, in a software engineering role. On campus, he has been involved in Silver Masque, a student-run theatre company at Northeastern, where he rediscovered his passion for directing. We had a chance to catch up with Matt, and hear more about his experience as a double major. Learn more below.
Tell us why you chose to pursue a double major in Khoury + CAMD!
When I was first applying to universities, my intention was always to find a way study both Theatre and Computer Science and get the full experience of both disciplines. Initially my interest in both subjects was disconnected and I expected to end up programming by day and acting by night. However, as I’ve delved deeper into the specificity of Theatre and the scope of Computer Science I’ve noticed more overlapping concepts and strategies than I expected. In my third year, I was sitting in a class called Game Artificial Intelligence and the Professor (Kevin Gold, Khoury) was talking about the necessity of the illusion of life in artificial agents and I thought to myself, “that’s theatre, that’s my experience with acting and with directing.” That moment was instrumental to the synthesis of my desire to combine my skills in order to discover a new kind of connection between arts and technology.
My hope is that I can use my unique perspective to spearhead innovation and new techniques in the creation of artistic experiences.
Tell us about your co-op experiences so far!
I’m starting my second co-op this July at a company called Projector PSA where I’ll be doing software engineering but my first co-op was at Central Square Theater (CST) as the Assistant to the Artistic Director of The Nora Theatre Company. I was really intrigued by the day to day operations of a theatre company and CST was especially attractive because of their partnership with MIT and commitment to producing plays that connect science with the arts. While my work was mostly focused on auditions and daily operations, I got a firsthand look at the problems and solutions that an Artistic Director is involved in every day. My experience at CST help reinvigorate my passion in theatre and ignited a new interest in the artistic administration of Theatre – an interest I brought with me into my extracurricular activities with Silver Masque.
Talk to us a bit more about your involvement in Silver Masque.
When I got to Northeastern I knew I wanted to be busy. I’ve always been happiest when I’m involved with a bunch of different projects. Because I was cast in a couple of department productions my first year I made a lot of connections with my fellow theatre majors and got to experience Silver Masque’s premier event, Fortnight, my very first semester. Silver Masque’s focus is on the development of student original content. Fortnights are a cabaret-style event where people perform all kinds of material and at the end is a student written, directed, and produced ten minute play. I got involved my second year as a member of the technical squadron. I hung lights, attended tech rehearsals, and produced a couple plays. However, my most rewarding experiences came as a director. In the spring of my sophomore year I directed Content by Adam Thomas (Bouvé, 2019) and rediscovered a love for directing that I hadn’t experienced since my senior year of high school.
I got to work with a talented group of actors on a really interesting play about dreams, fear, and interpersonal connections and the playwright was one of my peers! I fell in love with the development of new works and new artists.
That love was the primary motivation for the development of a joint platform with Megan Warshofsky (DMSB/CAMD, 2021), who was secretary for Silver Masque at the time. She was elected President and I, Vice President, and we got to shape the club’s direction to focus on efficiency, quality, and artistic integrity. I deeply admired Pablo Hernandez Basulto (CAMD, 2018), one of the creators of Silver Masque’s ten minute play program (and the director of my most valued acting experience at NEU, The Exception and the Rule), and wanted to push the play development process to create unique artistic endeavors that all involved individuals could be proud of.
In the past couple years, I’ve gotten to help reimagine our development process, help produce almost twenty new works and build my skills as an artistic administrator and creator.
What advice would you give prospective or current students looking to take on a double major or is currently pursuing one?
Whenever I explain my majors, I inevitably get asked, “so what are you hoping to do with that?” That question used to terrify me but now it’s a reminder that whatever I do end up doing, it’s indisputably unexplored territory. There are artists in the combined space of theatre and computerized technologies who are doing the kind of experimentation I envy and hope to do in the future, Annie Dorsen (2019 MacArthur Fellow) and the German group Rimini Protokoll to give a couple of examples. But I understand that this is a realm of untapped potential and any mistakes I might make are a form of learning and research.
My advice to fellow double or combined majors is to find the unique point of overlap that captivates them.
There is one. Even if one can’t see it in the work of others, the creation of that point of overlap is easier than one might think. All it requires is a person wondering, “hmm, what can I find that joins these disciplines and how can it reinvigorate them both?”