Class of 2016 graduate, Nickie Dubick, is heading to Yale University this fall on a full scholarship. “I’m going to attend the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, and I’m going for ‘TD&P’ or ‘Technical Design and Production’,” said Nickie in a May 2022 interview, “I did my undergrad in scenic design at Marymount Manhattan College, but they’re two different concentrations – I love them equally.”
The Master of Fine Arts degree in TD&P will be an all-encompassing study of the production and design of all technical systems, she said, “When you go to a live event, like in theater, everything that you see and hear and experience environmentally is designed by someone – sound designer, costumer designer, lighting designer, scene or set designer – and designers for various other elements – projection, and video – tons of stuff. We work as tech staff, production managers, and we work with other designers to help them actualize what they’re envisioning.”
Nickie said while she loved pursuing her scenic design degree from Marymount, she went into it with very little technical experience, and wanted to fill in the gaps with the TD&P. “There are a lot of things I’m missing from a more rounded education to assist me as scenic designer. The more work I take, the more questions I have, and the more interested I become. This is my attempt to supplement my education.”
While NCC was her introduction to college, Nickie’s first step toward a career in theater was her gap time after graduating from Nashua High School North in 2009. “After graduation, I took an opportunity to travel and perform and teach music with a nonprofit organization called the Young Americans. I taught a ton of kids and had a really wonderful time. My experience in that organization introduced me to theater.”
After five years with the Young Americans, she decided to pursue the technology side of theater versus performance or education. “I needed to start somewhere, and to be candid, I did poorly in high school. I knew I needed to make up for it, and came home and walked into NCC with no college experience whatsoever. And they were wonderful to me, from the minute I walked in the door to the minute I left. They guided me through the intake process, the placement test, and introduced me to Professor Steve Meidell.” Professor Meidell coordinates the Honors Program at NCC, which offers rigorous classes that prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions.
Fully immersed in the college experience, Nickie never forgot the value of experiential learning outside the classroom. “For the honors capstone project, we wrote a big research paper, and I wrote about the benefits of a gap year. I talked about the value of young people taking the time to decide if a college-level education is right for them, and I stand by that. College was not right for me until five years out of high school. I traveled, I worked, and I waited until it was the right time to go. While NCC was a great experience, my undergrad was wonderful, and I’m thrilled to pursue my master’s – that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone. But having a facility like NCC – affordable high-quality education in your own town, is priceless. NCC helped me reclaim my education.”
She advised prospective students to take a minute and figure out what they really want. “Have patience with yourself, and value yourself and your education as much as you can. Value the time that you have with other learners as much as you can.”
Nickie transferred all her NCC credits to Marymount Manhattan College, and moved to New York City in 2016. While in New York, she interned for scenic designer David Korins, who designed sets for Hamilton, Dear Evan Hanson, and Beetlejuice. “David Korins runs his own design firm, and at the time, there was an opportunity to spend six months with his firm as a scenic design intern. The chance to work with and for someone at that level is invaluable – especially right out of undergrad. It’s really different, it’s a very high level of scenic design, it’s very demanding and very fast-paced, and you’re surrounded by amazingly creative people all the time. I even had the chance to sit through the tech-rehearsal process for Beetlejuice. David also opened Hamilton: The Exhibition while I was there, and he flew most of us out to Chicago for the opening. I was able to design a play of my choosing, and David Korins conducted several meetings with me to discuss my design of the show, it was a very cool experience.”
She then spent several months freelancing as a carpenter, scenic painter, and theatre electrician in New York before joining The Polar Express Train Ride as Props & Décor Supervisor. The pandemic knocked the theatre industry off its feet, but she says, “Now we’re back to it, right where we left off.”
The Yale program will be an intensive three-year experience of full-time, in-person classes. But it will open endless possibilities.
“One of the biggest questions the interviewers asked when I applied is ‘where do you want to be at the end?’ And I’m not going in with the intention as leaving as a particular role, I’m going to learn as much as I can, and hope I will end up at the right place in the end. There are a lot of possibilities for me after leaving this program.”
To learn more about the Honors Program at NCC, visit nashuacc.edu/programs/honors-program.