It’s the stuff of fairytales.
Less than two years into her professional career, Lauren Henkel Engler is basking in the limelight at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC), one of the top Shakespeare companies in the country in Baltimore, Maryland.
Engler is a 2013 alumna of High Point University. While working toward her double major in studio art and performance theatre, the Severn, Maryland native took an active part in multiple HPU theatre productions – from painting a realistic tree stump for “Picnic” to playing one of the lead roles in “Urinetown.”
Shaping a Future
Engler first interned with the CSC the summer before her senior year. Dr. Ed Simpson, chair of the HPU theatre department, connected her with Ian Gallanar, the founding artistic director at CSC. Engler excelled in her internship position and was hired as an assistant stage manager that summer. Today, she’s responsible for making the stage come to life as the company’s lead scenic painter.
“In conjunction with HPU’s scenic painting professor, Matthew Emerson, the art department gave me the skills and confidence in my abilities to seek out scenic painting opportunities,” says Engler. “I know that I can artistically handle whatever is thrown at me by scenic designers and directors to create exactly the look they want.”
Since graduating, Engler has performed, stage managed and scenic painted in a variety of shows by the CSC and other Baltimore-based companies.
- Played Hippolyta and scenic painted for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
- Stage managed and scenic painted for “Uncle Vanya”
- Stage managed “Richard II”
- Scenic painted for “A Christmas Carol”
- Scenic painted for “The Importance of Being Earnest”
- Acting intern for “Taming of the Shrew”
- Ensemble member for Stillpointe Theatre Initiative production of “Sweeney Todd”
- Played Valeria in Cohesion Theater Company’s production of “Coriolanus”
Simpson attended one of Engler’s performances in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last fall. Engler played the part of Hippolyta, had a dance solo, played the clarinet and was one of the scenic artists for the production.
“Lauren’s performance not only showcased her talent as a member of the very strong acting company at CSC, but illustrated her impressive versatility as an artist,” says Simpson. “In this way, Lauren also demonstrated one of the strengths of our theatre program at HPU: our students leave HPU with a variety of production skills. They all have a specialty area – acting, design, dance – but also have a number of other arrows in their quivers. This allows many of our grads to be even more valuable in the real world of theatre.”
The HPU Connection
Just like Engler, at least four HPU theatre majors have completed summer internships with the company each year through a partnership between HPU and the CSC. The program gave senior Sarah Thompson the chance to work alongside Engler and hone essential theatre skills.
“Lauren is such a hard worker and she has such a passion for what she does, making her a fantastic role model,” says Thompson. “I always look forward to productions that we are both involved in, and I hope to have many more opportunities to continue working with such a talented, caring person!”
Looking back on her four years at HPU, Engler can’t narrow down a single professor who impacted her the most; she considers them all mentors who proved invaluable to her success.
“Each of the professors in the Department of Theater gave me the confidence in my own abilities to know that I could succeed, as well as the training to give me a competitive edge in my field,” says Engler. “They fostered an incredibly safe environment in which students could try new things, spread their emotional depth in acting, and dream big knowing that they would have honest, yet supportive feedback. I was able to trust my professors completely and broaden my acting skills exponentially at HPU.”