Alum spotlight: Cindy Warren (BFA ’90 / MFA ’19)

four people smiling

Cindy Warren, BFA in Technical Theatre ’90, MFA in Pedagogy ’19

Cindy started “doing tech stuff in middle school. I always liked working with my hands and grew up helping my dad build stuff.” She reveled in the work at VCU, “We stayed up and did tech and didn’t sleep much and it was great.”

Cindy’s freshman costume construction class taught by Liz Hopper – all wearing their final projects

After graduating with her BFA, Cindy worked at Kings Dominion and TheatreVirginia, until 1991, when she became a sound and light technician for Royal Caribbean Cruises. “I put my body through abuse in a man’s world. Thankfully, there are more women now, but I had to prove myself. Pick up that ¾ sheet of plywood and carry it by myself.”

from VCU mainstage “What I did Last Summer” – Cindy was a scene painter.

When she got pregnant with her son, Jonathan (now a musician in Nashville), she ended her tour and returned to KD, where she started as Head of Tech in entertainment and worked her way up to Operations Manager. When she was working a concert, her parents brought her son for the show. “As we were preparing for sound check. He said, ‘Mommy why do you have to work so much?’ I thought, ‘I don’t.'”

Cindy with her son Jonathan and granddaughter Emmaline

About three days later, her brother sent her an ad that Henrico Recreation and Parks was looking for Cultural Arts Coordinator and Cindy started there in 2000. This position included heading all things tech for all community events. Later, she moved to the County’s Public Relations and Media Services Department, where she was actually talent on a gardening show, “I didn’t love it. The only thing I liked was working with my hands actually helping plant the tree. As long as I didn’t think about the camera, it was fine.”

Cindy and Ron Keller at his retirement party

This led her to the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology in Petersburg, where she started as a teacher, then moved to Chair in her second year. After Brandon Becker left, their search for a new teacher led to Jason Campbell (BFA ’07, MFA ‘09). When he applied to Cindy, Jason remarked, “This is the second time you’ve hired me.” The first was when Cindy was Operations Manager at KD, where he was hired to perform.

Cindy and Lou Szari at Ron’s retirement party

When Cindy decided to get her MFA, “They worked with me and the Governor’s School so I could continue teaching.  I could leave at lunch and head to VCU for class.” At the Governor’s School, she still designs and helps build shows, “I get my hands dirty. I’m building and I love it, but my body isn’t loving it as much.”

Cindy was TD for mainstage “The Wolves” while finishing her MFA in 2019.

Her age came more into focus when she was teaching scenic design students, “We were drafting out a ground plan and I handed out pennies and for them to use and see if their spacing for bodies was OK. One student looked at penny and said ‘I wasn’t even born when this penny was made.’ I just sprouted five more gray hairs!”

Header image: Cindy’s MFA thesis defense with Doug Brown, Dr. Aaron Anderson (Associate Chair and now Interim Director of Graduate Studies), and Dr. Keith Kirk (Former Director of Graduate Studies, current Assistant Professor).

Compiled by Liz Hopper (professor emeritus) and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the February 2022 Theatre Alumni newsletter