Kate Fraser, BFA in Scenic Design, 2017
The coronavirus opened up a new career for Kate. “If Covid hadn’t come, I’d be living in Brooklyn in an apartment full of cockroaches and working at the Public.” Kate and Curt Miller (read his recent profile here) were both in the Scenic program at VCU but really took an interest in sound design. They both also had the same internship at The Public a year apart.
After graduating, Kate was A1 and A2 of a number of shows at The Public, some of which ended up on Broadway, but she couldn’t follow them because she wasn’t union. In 2019, Kate toured with Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief. In 2020, Kate was back in New York working on Cold Country at The Public when the pandemic shut down the production. She left Brooklyn “to weather COVID” at her brother’s house in North Carolina. While she was there, she got an online certification in Project Management, and her brother’s friend suggested she apply for a new program with Duke University.
This unlikely switch was boosted by her new boss, who was the Director of Government Trials and Networks at Duke Clinical Research Institute. “She had taken a chance on a costume designer from New York and loved her work ethic and how organized she was. She told me, ‘You have a similar work ethic.’ So, she brought me on as a contractor for six months.”
Kate worked remotely until August, when she made the move to Asheville, where the Duke program was located. Her boyfriend, Kevin Wunderlich, moved with her. They met on the Lightning Thief tour, where he was a guitarist in the band.
The specific program at Duke, is called RADx-UP and it was created through one of the largest grants ever awarded by the NIH. Kate works to help with vaccination outreach to help underserved populations. As part of the engagement team, she helps coordinate resources across the consortium. “We’re actually helping people, which feels really great. And the good that we’re seeing in these communities that have been largely ignored is incredible. Outreach is super rewarding…plus, I really like being in charge.”
About her VCU experience, Kate notes, “The most important thing was how to make and keep connections. Many of my friends have helped each other get jobs. And that’s huge in theatre. I talked with Thomas Vecchione , Head of Sound at VCU, last week.” She hasn’t completely abandoned theatre in her new hometown, “I want to be a part of a community theatre to hang out and make friends.”
Header image (clockwise from bottom left): Kate working on a high school production, Kate performing in a Battle of the Bands show, Kate taking a break while working on Shakespeare in the Park, and Kate at another Battle of the Bands.
Department of Theatre Alumni Newsletter October 2021