Sara Outing, C’13 is Platt House’s inimitable Administrative Coordinator! She came to Penn from Chapel Hill, NC and graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts. Since then, her journey has looped through the regional and Fringe theatre scenes of Philadelphia and its suburbs. In her time away from Platt House, she enjoys the gorgeous landscape and history of her neighborhood in the Northeast, practices a clutter of creative hobbies, and continues to freelance as a scenic designer, props fabricator, and puppeteer. As a student, Sara knew she wanted to try her hand at scenic design, so she engaged in design and carpentry gigs with 4A, Players, Singers, Quadramics, Stim, and the Theatre Arts Program. Additionally, Sara was a founding member of Keynotes A Cappella and was briefly a member of PLBD. These formative experiences sparked in her lasting loves for social dance, singing, and music composition.Through living in the Arts House residential program in Harnwell and participating in the performing arts scene on campus, Sara found a space not only for practiced talents, but also for new beginnings. Sara shares: “Despite the stereotype of performative excellence at Penn, within my creative community I felt the invitation to fly or fail at sight-reading a new tune on violin, to show up as a newbie at West Philly Swingers’ Fish Fry, to bumble through my first Noteflight arrrangement, to mix colors fearlessly in the PAC Shop.” During undergrad, Sara learned to enjoy and celebrate the experience of being an amateur just as much she celebrates honing her craft. This willingness has served her well in the freelance arts world. Sara reminisces over some Penn memories including watching friends and strangers shine onstage, specifically citing a Quadramics’ Fling Production of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, which “blew [her] teenage mind.” Sara also fondly recalls her own “rare” moments onstage, stating that she is not truly confident as an actor but is so proud of her past self for giving it her all. [Platt House jumping in to say that Sara is a humble, but truly skilled performer, acting included!]Sara is also the creator of the brand-new Backstage @ Platt House podcast! Sara identifies as a “podcast person,” her interest stemming from Welcome to Night Vale a few years ago and recently landing on Alie Ward’s Ologies. Back in March, Sara was working with a bunch of local arts alumni for an in-person panel. Once Platt House programming moved to the virtual sphere, the podcast format seemed like an obvious and exciting transition. The first season of the podcast features those local arts alumni and a few University staff. Backstage @ Platt House Season 2 will have a student focus, acting as a conduit among performing arts community members.
This summer, Sara was one of six artists awarded with the Black Puppeteer Empowerment Grant from Puppet Showcase Theatre near Boston. As part of her remote Creative Residency, she developed a short original shadow show alongside the other artists. Sara is next looking forward to her upcoming design project for an Alice Childress piece with the Philadelphia Artists Collective. She recently delivered a set of creative props to one of her favorite companies, Bearded Ladies Cabaret, whose projects are always artistically entertaining, emotionally nourishing, and queer as can be. Sara will also be diving into a props/paper/packaging design on an afrofuturist story-by-mail with an incredible company, Tiny Dynamite, and an incredible new collaborator, local playwright Jarrett McCreary. Check out Sara’s website for more!
To those interested in pursuing the arts beyond college, Sara says “The arts industries can sometimes romanticize ‘imposter syndrome’ as a noble trait of humble and hardworking creatives. Don’t fall into the trap of internalizing a value system that hurts you! After many years, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to land among companies, organizations, and collaborators who empower my sense of artistic self and pay attention to my financial health, but that work has to occur within as it does without. If you find imposter syndrome and self-denial, sit with it. Take note of your worth, and hold tight to people around you who do the same.”
Photo Credits: Boaz Kim