The blend of art and science is a special charm of Rolla's, present in our university and collection of theatrical organizations.
Rolla is a center of innovation both in the sciences and in the arts, largely because of the people who work and perform here.
One example of this is local actress and engineering student Lauren Werkmeister, whom many will recognize from her theatrical roles. Since bringing her love for theatre to Rolla, Lauren has since become a familiar face onstage, while offstage working on her goal of becoming a civil engineer.
Lauren became involved in theatre while she and her brother attended different high schools. She attended an all-girls school and her brother an all-boys. When her brother’s school held auditions for Damn Yankees, she took advantage of the open auditions. Having always enjoyed singing, Lauren said she wanted to find a creative outlet, and discovered she enjoyed the acting aspect of performance as well. Since then, her love of theatre has carried her well into her college career, where she currently studies civil engineering.
While attending Missouri S&T, Lauren splits her time between indulging her creative passion, and nurturing her logical side. However she said it’s the combination of both that keeps her happy. As much as she enjoys singing and acting, she loves the math and objectiveness of engineering.
“I need both, the creativity and the logic,” she said.
Sometimes these worlds meet, according to Lauren, and her creative skills help her to look at a logical problem in a new way. She said engineering is actually a blend of creativity and logic. On the creative end, Lauren said she often finds ways to use her technical skills on the stage.
“Sometimes you have to look at a character logically,” she explained, saying how being able to objectively and analytically examine a character can help bring them to life.
Since arriving at Missouri S&T, Lauren has performed through nearly every available venue, working with Fine Linen Theatre, Ozark Actor’s Theatre (OAT), and through the university’s Miner Leage Players. Lauren said she began with auditioning at Missouri S&T, but was encouraged to reach out and become involved in community theatre as well. Since then, Lauren as become a well-known face in the community, appearing in Leach Theatre and at the Cedar Street Playhouse in a large variety of productions such as OAT’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Fine Linen’s Seussical, and S&T’s Next to Normal. The production of Next to Normal in particular was a show that helped Lauren grow as an actress, she said. The musical addresses several mental health issues and Lauren said she felt a strong connection with the cast during the performance.
A common theme for each of these venues, according to Lauren, is the overwhelming positivity she’s encountered in Rolla’s theatre community. Lauren spoke highly of each theatre organization in town, and the sentiments were easily returned.
“She’s been great to work with,” said Kim Nisbett, director of Fine Linen Theatre, who used Lauren as an example of the talent present in Rolla. “[She comes in] totally prepared, giving one hundred percent, while at the same time giving one hundred percent to other things.” Kim said she would often find Lauren working on Calculus homework with other castmates in costuem during intermissions.
Lauren currently has one final semester at Missouri S&T before pursuing a career as a civil engineer. While she’s here, she plans on continuing to audition for the different theatre organizations in town and encourages others to do the same, and join in on the positive community she has grown to love while becoming an integral part of what makes Rolla theatre special.