Nathan Huisman planned to be an actor: with a drama degree from Augustana, he was well on his way! However, when he began working in theatre, he saw a need for people who could take care of the business side of the industry. He felt drawn to fill that role.
Nathan got his foot in the door of the theatre world with the help of Augustana’s drama professors. He took on projects in Camrose, Edmonton, and even London, England, where he worked as a production manager with director Rachel Isaac on the show Point of Entry. “It was a memorable year,” Nathan says. “Since rehearsal space is limited in London, we rehearsed in an abandoned insane asylum next to Hampstead Cemetery. We had lots of space and privacy, but it was a little creepy. Point of Entry was about the spirit world, so the place certainly got us in the mood!”
Now back in Canada, Nathan is a producer with Calgary’s Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre, a group focussed on producing innovative and original theatrical performances in unconventional spaces. He also volunteers with various arts organizations and is on the board of directors for the Alberta Playwrights’ Network.
As a producer of plays, concerts, films, and festivals, Nathan acts as a liaison between the artistic side and the business side of a production. His day-to-day work involves sending emails, making calls, going to meetings, preparing budgets, writing grant applications, and contracting actors. He has worked with high-profile artists such as Colin Firth, Serena Ryder, and Steve Earle. He strives to put together the right team of skilled people for each project and effectively delegate tasks so Swallow-a-Bicycle Theatre can put on performances that have an impact. “My goal is to offer audiences remarkable experiences,” he says.
Nathan credits Augustana’s drama professors with providing him with the foundation for his career. “Kristine Nutting, Kevin Sutley, and Sparky Johnson taught me everything I know,” he says. “Each of them is an inspiring artist in his or her own right, and together they challenged me to grow and develop my skills and myself.” He participated in many Augustana theatre productions. “Thinking back,” he says, “I can’t help but smile. Those were some of the most fun experiences of my life.”
Nathan’s experience as a performer was complemented by his role as a residence assistant in Ronning Hall. “Being an RA gave me the confidence to be responsible for groups of people,” he says, “and that contributes to my success in my work today.”
Wherever his work takes him, Nathan carries fond memories of his university days on a close-knit campus. “Augustana is remarkable,” he says. “Even though it’s a small place, its graduates can go on to do big things.”