Northeastern theatre alumni enjoy a wide range of successful careers on and off stage. Because our program cultivates multi-dimensionality, alums are prepared to work in diverse kinds of theatres and have found their artistic passions in settings ranging from New York and Broadway to regional theatres and the cutting-edge fringe scene in Boston and beyond. Their goal is not just “fame,” but a lifetime of meaningful work in the theatre. Meet four of our graduates:
SAHEEM ALI – DIRECTOR
Born in Kenya, Saheem Ali ’03 has enjoyed a successful directing career in New York City. 2016 projects include A Lesson From Aloes (Juilliard), The Seagull (NYU Tisch), Hair (Pace University), and The Booty Call (Inner Voices). Last year he was Associate Director of The Tempest starring Sam Waterston and Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the Public Theatre/Shakespeare in Central Park. Saheem has worked on and off Broadway with George Wolfe (The Normal Heart) and Michael Greif (Angels in America). Other directing credits include the Public Theater, O’Neill Musical Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Lincoln Center, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Signature Theatre. He received a Presidential Scholarship in Theatre at Northeastern University.
“My undergraduate education at NU’s Theater Department was instrumental in launching me into the professional world in New York. The combination of theoretical in-class learning, practical rehearsal and performance, and experiential co-op opportunities equipped me with the tools that I needed to enter the professional arena. When I began the program, I was undecided about which specific role I would fit into. All I knew was that I wanted to be in the theater. The structure of the program, where you are exposed to the different aspects of theater-making, was invaluable. The ability to try the different fields — acting, design, dramaturgy — was essential in helping me identify that my passion lay in directing. It prepared me for the application and eventual admission into the graduate directing program at Columbia. I look back at my time in the Theater Department as the essential foundation to my career as a director.”
MICHAEL UNDERHILL – ACTOR, ADMINISTRATOR, AND ARTS ENTREPRENEUR
Boston born Michael Underhill ’10 is an IRNE nominated actor and creative leader in Boston’s thriving fringe theatre scene. Committed to the creation of original and devised work, he has been artistic associate with Imaginary Beasts since 2009 and has served on the artistic board of Happy Medium Theatre Company since 2011. “With these roles comes an extra layer of responsibility in administration and production,” he explains. “In return for that commitment, I have a voice in the room where artistic decisions are made.” Michael has received critical acclaim for performances with SpeakEasy Stage Company, Stoneham Theatre, Theatre on Fire, Whistler in the Dark, Heart & Dagger, and ShakespeareNow! He has also worked with the film companies Thompson Films, Greenview Entertainment, Malarkey Films and Joel Marsh Films.
“When I entered Northeastern, my confidence as an actor was, shall we say, slim to none. In acting classes, I was challenged and pushed to places I thought I could never go — mentally, physically or emotionally. I received so much individual attention, encouragement and analysis because the student-professor ratio is small. In analysis class, I learned how to read a script, by crawling over every word of text, forwards and backwards, in a quiet room with no disturbances. In tech classes, I picked up the practical skills required to physically put on a play, even though I attended as a performance concentration. I became president of Silver Masque, and I left my senior year ready to conquer the world. I have not had more than a month off in between projects since graduation.”
KEVIN DEANE PARKER – STAGE MANAGER, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Kevin Deane Parker ’15 received a 2016 Arts Impulse nomination as Best Stage Manager for Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Company One. While studying industrial engineering at Northeastern, he found his home in the theatre department. Multi-faceted and interested in all things backstage, Kevin has worked with Huntington Theatre Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Children’s Theatre, Bad Habit Productions, Actors Shakespeare Project, Theater Offensive, Ogunquit Playhouse, A.R.T. Institute, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Wooden Kiwi Productions, Argos Productions, and Boston Theater Company. Immediately upon graduation, he served as Technical Director for the Gloucester Stage Company. Favorite projects include stage managing BHP’s Gross Indecency (IRNE Award – Best Fringe Production) and technical direction for Company One’s The Flick (Norton Awards for Outstanding Design and Production).
“The theatre department at Northeastern provided a laboratory for me to not only learn theatre-specific skills, but to apply engineering to a creative setting. My particular interest is translating the principles of industrial engineering (reducing cost, increasing efficiency) to the complex world of theatrical production. The theatre faculty always supported my efforts. Theatre co-ops allowed me to take on projects where I applied these experiments in professional theatre. I was able to develop a cross-departmental relationship at Northeastern that wouldn’t have been possible with other theatre programs or universities.”
HEIDI NELSON – DRAMATURG
Heidi Nelson ’06 studied performance at Northeastern and is now a freelance dramaturg focused on new play development and ensemble-based theatre in the Washington DC area. She was the Dramaturgy Fellow for the inaugural season of ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage and later served as their New York based programming consultant. She was dramaturg for the American Repertory Theater’s Elliot Norton Award-winning production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and the world premiere of Ellen McLaughlin’s Ajax in Iraq. Her article, “Bryan Doerries’s Theater of War: A New Incarnation of an Ancient Ritual,” was published in the LMDA Review.
“My experience at Northeastern has proven invaluable. Interesting coursework complemented by hands-on production experience fueled my passion for creating meaningful art that sparks dialogue and inspires social awareness. The mentorship of an exceptional professor set in motion a chain of events that led to my being accepted into an excellent MFA program and making crucial connections with influential colleagues in my field. None of my accomplishments would have been possible without the educational foundation and artistic inspiration I acquired at NU.”