Alum and AU professor takes the stage in signature theatre production of ‘She Loves Me’
Katherine Riddle balances the life of a professional performing artist and adjunct professor at her alma mater
Professor Katherine Riddle is doing more than an average nine-to-five job. She balances both her teaching career and performing eight shows a week in “She Loves Me” at the Signature Theatre from Tuesday to Sunday. On Mondays, she teaches private lessons as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, American University.
Riddle graduated from American University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Arts in Vocal Performance. Although she majored in classical music, Riddle found herself dabbling in everything. She loved being able to freely make art with full support from professors and staff.
“We were all hungry to collaborate together and create new stuff,” Riddle said. “It was such an open collaborative process that your degree ended up being exactly what you wanted to make of it.”
Riddle said her degree was a mix of everything she was looking for because it was an open and supportive process, and she credits her inclusive and multidisciplinary experience at AU as one of the main reasons why she decided to come back as a professor.
After graduating, Riddle traveled around the U.S. performing in a multitude of shows. She even found her way to New York where she performed professionally for a couple of years. However, in 2017, Riddle moved back to D.C. where she found comfort in the close knit theater and arts community.
“It’s a more supportive artistic community…we all pretty much know each other and it’s a nice community of artists to be a part of,” Riddle said. According to Riddle, the DMV is an exciting place for new art and performance pieces. “D.C. is very cutting edge on getting new works out there and catching things before they sky rocket…it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.”
“I think I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a star or a teacher,” Riddle said.
Now, she is both. When she returned to D.C., Riddle was asked to teach private lessons to vocal performance students at AU. It was the perfect opportunity for her to fulfill both of her childhood dreams.
“Being a teacher has taught me so much about being a student and a teacher. It's another example of how art and my classroom is a reciprocal relationship,” Riddle said. She values her students' individuality and confidence, and she’s excited to make a difference in a classroom that she once sat on the other side of. “It was a strange transition, I remember I taught my first class in a classroom that I took classes in.”
Now Riddle is performing in “She Loves Me,” as the understudy for the lead, a character named Amalia Balash, and performing in the ensemble cast. “She Loves Me” is a classic enemies to lovers story. “It’s an upbeat story that we get to run away to for two and a half hours, where the only thing that happens is perfume and letter writing.”
After two years of restrictive COVID-19 policies, live theater is finally back in person. “It’s the perfect show to come back to,” Riddle said. “It is a meticulously crafted beautiful script and score, it's simple, charming and happy.”
The understudy process has always been stressful, but in the world of COVID-19, being an understudy is a more urgent and important role. All the cast members are required to test for COVID-19, and if they test positive they cannot perform. So, at any given time, whether it's a two-day notice or two-hour notice, Riddle has to be ready to step into the Amalia role.
Riddle is performing in “She Loves Me” at the Signature Theatre until April 24.