By: Somi Boyd (Sophomore)
Rob Schroeder, a 43-year-old theater teacher at Senn high school, lives in the Edgewater community. Born and raised in Wisconsin, he attended the University of Wisconsin and majored in acting. After college Mr. Schroeder began his acting career. He traveled to Minneapolis and eventually moved to Chicago. In 1996, he wrote and performed a piece called “All I Really Needed to know in Kindergarten,” which changed his life forever. I sat down to interview him about his life changing piece.
Somi : Could you please tell me about your life before acting?
Schroeder: I was in show choir and we were competitive. It was fun I had a really great time. There was a really great arts program there. We had a great theater. The town I had lived in had a great community theater I was involved in. So I was getting my feet wet there.
I actually wanted to work in children’s television programming and couldn’t get a job or even an internship. So I moved from Wisconsin to Minneapolis.
Somi: What were some challenges you faced when you began acting?
Schroeder: I think the challenge is how to stay employed. You’re lucky if your show runs for five months. So if I want a career in it I’ve got to keep getting shows one right after the other in order to pay the bills.
Somi: How did you overcome those challenges?
Schroeder: I hustled. I think a lot of people who want to be in the arts think talent is going to be enough to sustain them but you have to have a business sense.
Somi: What was your most life changing production for you?
Schroeder: A job I did right before I moved to Chicago, in Rockford called “All I Really Need to Know in Kindergarten“. It was a series of monologues and songs. And the material was really deep, and moving. It really changed the way I looked at life.
Somi: What was your role in the play, and how old were you, and where was the production?
Schroeder: So I was 26, I think I was 26 when I did Kindergarten that was in Rockford. I played myself. It was weird because people would play themselves. But it wasn’t me, it was me playing a character who was playing myself.
Somi: What was the process of that like, from the audition, to writing, to performing, to production?
Schroeder: I was actually writing this piece in a solo workshop. There’s this class I was taking called Solo Workshop, and it was a class for people who were writing Solos. I was taking that class, and the teacher of the class had her own theater company. She really liked my piece and said ‘I really want your piece to be part of our festival. And I’d really like to have your piece.’ So she helped me get produced, and then I had to hire a director. Me and my director really had to work with reading it, and performing it, and cutting it down.
Somi: Besides getting really deep, how else did it change you? Did it make you more open to certain opinions? Did it uncover something?
Schroeder: I think the thing that really changed me was that I realized there was a lot more I could do and I was capable. It opened my mind to, ‘I can do more than I thought I could do.’ I wish everybody have those moments where you come out the other end like, ‘Man if I could do that, I can do anything.’