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Shakespeare scholarship helps ISU student work toward dream

Actors performing in old West show

The Sutter Family Shakespeare Scholarship has helped theatre major Thomas Russell gain valuable experience by enabling him to work with professional actors.

Junior acting major Thomas Russell transferred to Illinois State after one year at an acting conservancy in New York. It was an excellent move that allowed for unique opportunities, such as an internship this past summer with the nationally acclaimed Illinois Shakespeare Festival (ISF).

The experience came as a result of the Sutter Family Shakespeare Scholarship, which provides a renewable financial award and an internship at the festival. Longtime ISF patron Craig Sutter created the scholarship in memory of his parents, H. Everett and G. Jean Sutter.

A standout theatre student from Chicago, Russell was the first Sutter scholar. He worked side-by-side with professional actors, augmenting his training from faculty in the School of Theatre and Dance.

He learned as an understudy, in weekly meetings with cast and crew, and with small roles in the festival’s three shows. Russell also moved one step closer to his dream of working as a fight choreographer after being named a fight captain by veteran ISF fight director Paul Dennhardt.

“It’s definitely good practice for what I want to do,” said Russell, who is grateful for the financial support. “To all donors, thank you. Help like this is so appreciated.”

Related Article: Video: New scholarship helps interns In the summer, students can audition for a highly competitive acting internship with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

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