Married to the Stage: ‘Columbia, MO Here We Come!’ by Natalie McCabe

There are many factors that have affected where I have chosen to go to school and why.  One major consideration of Johnny and me is monetary. Our various degrees (an MFA and BFA for him, a BA, an MA in a month, and eventual PhD for me) are in Theatre, not a profession where high earnings are expected, such as medicine or law. Consequently, we chose to attend schools, particularly for our higher degrees, after giving significant consideration to the financial aspects. Our goal was to get through this process without any debt, a difficult feat for anyone pursuing a higher degree these days. Fortunately for us, we have been able to do so thus far via assistantships and frugal living.

Natalie and Johnny. Photo courtesy of Serendipity Studios.
Natalie and Johnny. Photo courtesy of Serendipity Studios.

Still, sometimes the stars align and leave us in places where opportunities abound, regardless of financial outcome. For example, attending Catholic University with the assistantship I have was the best financial option, but Washington, DC remains a rather expensive city. That said, I have had wonderful opportunities during my time here that I would not have had elsewhere.

My first noteworthy prospect beyond campus came in the form of Joel Markowitz. I began writing stage reviews for Joel, first under Maryland Theatre Guide and then joining him at his site DCMetroTheatreArts, just over one year ago, in January of 2012. This provided me with a chance to work on my writing skills while enjoying a wide variety of shows. (It also allowed me to see shows that I may not have been able to afford on my grad-student-married-to-an-actor budget). This past August, I debuted this column, “Married to the Stage.” Those amazing but city-specific opportunities are welcome additions to my resumé.

Speaking of theatres, I spent the summer and fall assisting the dramaturg/literary associate at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. I aided in the research and other tasks for the current shows that the theatre is presenting in rep: Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and an original adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s play, Wallenstein. This gave me practical experience in the dramaturgical work for a functioning theatre, not to mention a Tony Award-winning one. It also presented me with access to the Folger Shakespeare Library via a Readership Card for several months, every dramaturgically-inclined nerd’s dream and a chance that I may not have had otherwise. Experiencing the Folger’s lectures and exhibits, not to mention all of the (free!) Smithsonian museums, has been a significant perk of living in the DC Metro area.

Simply due to my DC-based location, I was in town for the 2012 conference for ATHE (the Association for Theatre in Higher Education)The conference happened to be in this city, which made it affordable. I applied for and received one of their Student Fellowship Fund Grants to help with the fees. At the conference, I was able to meet and network with a variety of people, including a professor from the PhD program that I have ultimately chosen to attend.

Johnny and Natalie. Photo courtesy of Michael Erana and Serendipity Studios.
Johnny and Natalie. Photo courtesy of Michael Erana and Serendipity Studios.

And now, for the big reveal: I have chosen to attend the PhD Theatre Program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. Johnny and I will be moving there this summer, starting a new life in a new city while the adventures continue as we are “married to the stage!”

Read other articles from ‘Marriage to the Stage.’


  1. I grew up in Columbia, working at several of the terrific community theatres there as well as at MU when I was a kid — great town, great community! You have to love a place where the local hangout is called Shakespeare’s Pizza.


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