Artistic Vision

Kaliswa Brewster

Whitman has a long and proud tradition of excellence in the performing arts. More than a quarter of our students participate in one or more of the college’s music groups and ensembles. And Whitman’s Harper Joy Theatre, home to eight main stage productions and numerous other student productions every year, is consistently recognized as one of the top theatre schools in the country by The Princeton Review.

Since graduating from Whitman’s theatre program in 2005, Kaliswa Brewster has worked with actors in London and all across the United States. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California, which is where we caught up with her.

Q. Kaliswa, what is the one word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of Whitman College today?

A. Discovery. Life at Whitman was all about discovery. It’s where I discovered myself, my beliefs, my own voice, and my own view of the world.

Q. Tell us a little bit about why you chose to major in theatre?

A. When I showed up in Walla Walla, I immediately fell in love with the place. But it was when I toured Harper Joy Theatre that I was truly floored. It’s a perfect example of Whitman as a whole — all kinds of people with all kinds of passions putting their hearts and souls into their work in a fantastic setting.

Q. How would you describe your academic experience?

A. Challenging. I was constantly being asked to think for myself. Unlike most other colleges I know of Whitman expects you to soak in all you can and then come up with your own ideas, your own take on things. Also, I remember my professors being much more supportive than I ever expected and extremely passionate.

Q. What are some of the outside-the-classroom opportunities you found through Whitman?

A. Whitman’s study abroad program is a gift! I had the opportunity to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts my senior year, which was an amazing experience. I was cast in the first show of my freshman year as Miranda in “The Tempest.” The department also frequently brought guest artists and directors to campus. Both my apprenticeship at Williamstown and my summer at ACT sprung from the mentorship of guest directors and teachers. I still keep in contact with them today.

Q. What would you tell prospective students about your Whitman experience?

A. I would tell them that there is no better place for theatre at an undergraduate level than at Whitman. Soak it up. Audition for everything. Take classes and produce your own work because Harper Joy is a great buffet of opportunities. No other non-BFA program I know of offers the kind of opportunities, faculty, and support that Harper Joy does.