Kauffman is a recent graduate from the
SUU Master of Fine Arts, Arts Administration program. Nominated by her supervisor from a summer internship at
Repertory Dance Theatre, they were excited and inspired by Chelsea’s “authenticity, engagement, innovation, vision and effectiveness.” She was able to accomplish a massive amount for RDT and clearly left a lasting, positive impression through her work there. We
are honored to present her with our first Outstanding Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professional award.
Here is more about our award winner, Chelsea:
When did you fall in love with the arts?
I grew up in a home full of a passion for music, creativity, and talent. I sang, played the saxophone and guitar, and danced. At 14, I discovered theater and it was then that I truly fell in love with the arts. Being involved in theatre and music provided me with a safe space to be myself,
feel comforted, and have a home and a family to support me.
How have you seen the positive effects of the
arts in your life or in the Salt Lake County?
When I was 14 my family was struggling financially and ended up homeless for quite some time. From there, I faced foster care, my parents' divorce, and my mother's severe depression. I struggled to believe in myself and do my best, but the arts inspired me to
change my stars. The arts changes lives. It provided me with peace, community and hope. I owe it to the arts that I am still here today.
What do you imagine the arts community could
look like in Salt Lake?
I hope that the arts become available and life-changing for low-income families and particularly for those fighting emotional battles. I know there are many economic, political, spiritual, and economic challenges for the lives of many in Salt Lake. The arts provide a refuge. It is a gathering
place for understanding, comfort, and unity. I believe the arts can be an answer for many who are lost and alone.
What are some steps for getting there?
To get there, we can open our doors and reach out to organizations that fight for those who feel lost and alone. To do this, we must be accessible and provide a place of welcome. This does not just include attendance to our performances and galleries, but the
importance of the arts in life at an early age, how it can transform learning, and its ability to prompt expression and discussion about our lives. The arts can help us find and apply answers.
How has your work impacted the Salt Lake
My work in the Salt Lake community hasn't gone on for very long but my story and passion has driven me forward. Because of my life experiences, I am able to look at things from the outside and see the forest from the trees. With this, I apply my organizational
skills and become a power house that challenges and pushes organizations to reach their full potential. I analyze every facet of arts administration in hopes that we continue to fulfill our mission as we move towards our vision. I know that my story is an example of the strength of the arts and my skills are
what keeps them doing the good that they do.
What energizes you in your work? What is your
I am energized by new things and challenges as I love to learn and understand life a bit more. In my work, I hope to magnify the many purposes of the arts, my passion for the arts, and I hope to give back to the community what the arts have given me.
Describe a time when you took a risk. What
inspired you to take that risk? And what was the result?
I took quite a risk attending graduate school. Accumulating student loan debt and taking time off of a consistent income was something that frightened me financially. I refused to repeat the past. Additionally, there is a misconception that going into the
arts will yield little financial reward. I knew that if I didn't do what I loved, I would regret it for most of my life. I didn't want to sacrifice my heart and passion because of my fears. The arts helped me defeat my fears once and it will continue to give me comfort. Graduate school was a sacrifice. I was
truly blessed by a supportive husband that helped me complete my studies without worrying about finances. In the end, I survived. I finished graduate school. And now I have a wealth of arts administration knowledge and experience to advance the work and my personal mission of the arts.
Chelsea was interviewed by Rachel Cook.
Cook is a Masters Candidate with SUU Arts Administration and a member of the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals advisory committee. She loves art, the mountains, and spends her spare
time with her husband.
Learn more about the Salt Lake Emerging Arts Professionals Recognition Program.
Pygmalion Theatre Company’s season continues with “Eleemosynary,” by Lee Blessing, directed by Jeremy Chase, which plays Feb. 24 through March 11. The show stars Barb Gandy, Tracie Merrill and Sydney Shoell.
“Eleemosynary,” which premiered in 1985, follows the relationships between three generations of women. The word ‘eleemosynary’ itself plays a significant part in the plot.
The play probes into the delicate relationship of three singular women: the grandmother, Dorothea, who has sought to assert her independence through strong-willed eccentricity; her brilliant daughter, Artie (Artemis), who has fled the stifling domination of her mother; and Artie’s daughter, Echo, a child of exceptional intellect—and sensitivity—whom Artie has abandoned to an upbringing by Dorothea.
As the play begins, Dorothea has suffered a stroke, and while Echo has reestablished contact with her mother, it is only through extended telephone conversations, during which real issues are skirted and their talk is mostly about the precocious Echo's single-minded domination of a national spelling contest. But, in the end, both Artie and Echo come to accept their mutual need and summon the courage to try, at last, to build a life together - despite the risks and terrors that this holds for both of them after so many years of alienation.
Director Chase says he was drawn to the show because he has always enjoyed scripts with small casts, sharply drawn characters, and “not much else,” he said. “‘Eleemosynary’ fits that bill. These three characters have wonderful, challenging stories for the cast to inhabit and explore. I love words and a significant aspect of this play is about the love of language, and how that is part of a family bond. Language as knowledge.”
He added that he has long been a fan of Blessing. “He's one of the great American playwrights of the latter part of the 20th century,” Chase said. “His love of language and choice of subject matter has always fascinated me. He's also economical, creating small yet rich worlds for theater folk to play in.”
Chase said the show fits in with the company mission statement of producing plays which reflect issues, concerns, and shared experiences in the lives of women.
“These characters represent three generations of driven, intelligent women,” he said. “They also break the mold of what's to be expected of them and how they find their way in the world. Their voices are aligned to the mission and spirit of the company.”
Barb Gandy, who plays Dorothea, said she was drawn to the show for many reasons. “The script is beautifully written; the roles are a dream for an actor; Jeremy (director) has a great passion for the play -- always a big plus when considering investment into a production,” Gandy said.
She added of the character she plays: “Dorothea, my role, is strong, decisive in amazing ways, and has a unique world view. She is unexpected and therein lies her eccentricity. I'm really excited.
“Beyond bringing the script and these characters to life, I'm excited to explore these very complex relationships and why the women make the choices they do with huge ramifications to the family dynamic.”
Gandy said she also appreciates, simply, the words. “Finally, the language that highlights fantastic words should appeal to anyone that is literary as most theatre audiences are,” she said. “I mean, how often does one get to relish words like Bijouterie, Glunch, and the title, Eleemosynary?
Merrill, who plays Artie, a biochemist, jokes she was initially drawn to the challenge of learning to say the word ‘eleemosynary.’ She adds that she is a lover of personal stories. “It’s beautiful storytelling that involves complicated family, relationships and a quirky journey of growing and healing.”
Having been in numerous Pygmalion shows, Merrill said she is excited to get in the room and begin rehearsals, which began Monday. “Nerves morph into excitement, and the time for exploration begins,” she said. “I’m excited to work with this great group of artists, and attempt to discover what is the driving force that has led these three women from one decision to the next.”
Shoell, who plays Echo, said this is her first time working for Pygmalion and she is interested in working for a theatre company that has such a focus on the stories of women. “This show in particular interested me because of how intriguing and complex this family dynamic is,” she said. “Also, because I am always interested in people that have a passion and all three of these women fight for their passions.”
Shoell added that she, too, is excited for the language of the show. “I am also very excited to spell things, which is a bit odd,” she said. “I have always been a terrible speller and rattling off a word like eleemosynary makes me want to invite my second-grade teacher to gloat.”
Who: Pygmalion Productions Theatre Company
When: Feb. 24 through March 11. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. with an extra matinee March 11 at 2 p.m.
Where: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South
Tickets: $15-$20 from (801) 355.ARTS (2787) or Artsaltlake.org
Blake grew up in Bath, England and is a trained journalist, as well as
studying theatre, film and television at Bristol University. Her journalism
training is from Hastings, England. She worked for the "Bath
Chronicle," a daily morning newspaper, as education reporter from 1999 to
2001. She also wrote a monthly column for another English newspaper during this
time, which she continued after she moved to Utah. After her move, she was a professional
actor for seven years, then went back to her first love as arts writer for
"IN This Week," a weekly entertainment publication from "The
Salt Lake Tribune." She worked there until 2012 and continues to write on
a freelance basis for the "Tribune." During that time, she won a
Society of Professional Journalists' award for one of her theatre reviews.
Daisy joined "Gephardt Daily" in November 2014, and is now proud to
be content manager. Daisy also does PR and is on the board for Pygmalion
Theatre Company, and is proud to have been in four of their shows, too.