The Backstage Art of Engineering

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Some of Julia Kimble’s first steps were taken onstage under the lights.

The senior theater major grew up in a theater family. Both of her parents and two of her siblings have been involved in theater for decades. And having a sister as stage manager for a high school theater company provided Kimble with plenty of stage time. She appeared in her first show when she was just 2 years old.

Kimble’s love for theater never faded, but as she went through high school, her interests expanded to include science and engineering. When she started looking at colleges, she didn’t want to have to choose between her passions.

At Calvin, Kimble wouldn’t have to. “We talked about how engineering and theater could complement each other,” said Kimble of her initial three-hour conversation with Calvin professor David Leugs.

That’s all she needed to hear. Kimble began at Calvin as an engineering major, but she soon realized that her number-one passion was theater.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I didn’t have it,” said Kimble. “I stopped singing to myself, stopped painting; I wasn’t myself without the creative output of theater.”

Kimble has moved from the spotlight to behind the scenes, where she takes her passion for science and engineering and meshes it with her creative talents.

“An aspect of theater is problem-solving—how can I make that work on this stage, with this group of people, with this budget . . . and make it worth it for a show to come see,” said Kimble.

Kimble is an assistant designer for two productions this year and a designer for a third production, allowing her to work alongside professional designers. Leugs says that providing these opportunities to students is important. But what he says is most important is helping students understand how Christians should do their work in this area of the world.

“We talk about this intentionally here at Calvin,” said Leugs. “I tell students that if they want to be a better Christian artist, [they should] become a better Christian. Work first on your relationship with Jesus Christ, and what you produce will grow out of that relationship with your Creator.”

“We’re trying to get students to understand that theater is bigger than just entertainment; it can also change minds and hearts. Showing mankind in sometimes their worst possible condition can point out how badly we are in need of redemption.”

When she graduates next spring, Kimble wants to get her masters in set design in England, a place where theater is well respected. She hopes to take all she’s learned and go out and make a difference in the world of theater.

“I want to help people,” said Kimble. “Theater does that. It makes people laugh, cry, think about the society they’re in, and want to change it.”

About the Author

Matt Kucinski is media relations manager at Calvin University.

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