Actor and Substitute Teacher at Shorewood High School
During the day, Molly Kempfer ’19 is a substitute teacher at Shorewood High School. At night, she’s either prepping for her next audition or in rehearsals for her next show. Ms. Kempfer was recently named an associate artist with Forte Theatre Company, and before that, she participated in the World Premiere Wisconsin festival with Children’s Theatre Madison.
“I chose Carthage specifically because the audition process showed me that the professors would be genuinely invested in my success and that the students had formed a genuine community.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“Milwaukee has such a supportive theatre community. I’ve been privileged to be in rooms with some very talented people. And what makes it so great is that these people are also genuinely good people. They make the rehearsal room a safe place to make mistakes, and they make work feel like play. I’m proud to call many of them my friend.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“I’ve worked with lots of different people with different perspectives and ways of doing things (running rehearsal, directing, etc.), and that’s made me more flexible in my process.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“My liberal arts education has helped me look at characters from different angles and have a deeper understanding of who they are. This has helped the most with new works, but it applies to well-known characters as well. Some of my more recent roles are from long-beloved musicals, and I always strive to bring them to life in a new, yet grounded way. Having a well-rounded education has been crucial to my process. It also helps a lot with subbing because I feel comfortable teaching almost any class if needed.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
“I knew I wanted a BA instead of a BFA in theatre because I wanted the freedom to choose classes outside of theatre. At Carthage, I was able to take Spanish classes as well as several classes related to physics that wouldn’t have been available to me in a typical BFA program. I love learning about a variety of topics and wasn’t willing to let go of the pursuit of knowledge after high school. I chose Carthage specifically because the audition process showed me that the professors would be genuinely invested in my success and that the students had formed a genuine community rather than the competitive backbiting I had seen at other schools.”
What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?
“I got the opportunity to audition and go to Open Jar, which is a musical theatre intensive in New York. There, I got to work with Broadway actors, directors, and casting directors. I also got to work with playwrights on new works and professional directors, which taught me so much about what the rehearsal process looks like in the professional world.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“It’s difficult to name specific people because so many professors contributed to my success. My advisors helped me sort out my goals when I was feeling lost. I had several voice teachers who supported me when I was sick or anxious, and they helped me advance leaps and bounds vocally. I also had many directors at Carthage who helped me to hone my craft and find more specific and grounded ways to flesh out a character. All that was vital to my success. If I had to name one person, it would be Professor Marcella Kearns, who offered me understudy opportunities and helped me get connected with people in the Madison area. She has been so encouraging post-graduation and taught me so much.”
Were you an award recipient? If so, tell us about the awards you received and what they meant to you.
What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?
“Theatre is all about telling stories truthfully and in community. The community I’ve built post-Carthage has gotten me through some tough times, and I strive to grow in community with those around me. That support and encouragement goes both ways.”