Colleen Hilke’s journey to teaching drama at ESAA and Mosaic began on a yellow brick road. Well, sort of.
When she was 8 years old, she tried to direct the neighborhood kids in her own production of “The Wizard of Oz” in her back yard. Problem was, no one was listening to her. Enter a pair of compassionate parents.
“My parents thought I might have more luck auditioning for an actual local production of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ “ she recalled. “I auditioned, was cast as a munchkin, got hooked on theater, and the rest - as they say - is history.”
Colleen grew up in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and performed in plays throughout her childhood, thanks to a community theater group in nearby Manitowoc.
“I have had large and small roles in musical and non-musical productions,” she shared. “I have also been on stage and costume run-crews in college and community theater productions.”
Colleen was a theater performance major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point before discovering a passion for teaching. She graduated in May 2010 with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education with minors in drama and music.
New to the Sheboygan Area School District this year, Colleen is excited to have the opportunity to bring her love of drama to her students.
“At Mosaic I teach several seminars that focus on specific areas in drama, such as acting, directing, and playwriting,” she explained. “At ESAA, the drama is more comprehensive and focuses on dramatic skills in a very broad context. I integrate classroom content and skills into our dramatic studies, especially with the project-based learning we are implementing.”
Before joining the SASD, Colleen was a substitute teacher in Two Rivers.
“I would not trade that year of substitute teaching for anything because it gave me such a strong perspective in many different areas,” she said. “I substitute taught in early childhood through 12th grade and in all areas of special education. I long-term subbed as a high school librarian and as a seventh-grade language arts teacher. I met so many interesting students!”
Regarding her drama experience, Colleen has taught summer workshops, directed students of all ages in plays, and integrated theater into much of her regular education teaching. She also started the Huzzah Theater Troupe with several high school students from Two Rivers. Be sure to check out the troupe on Facebook!
Colleen is engaged to area musician Trent Machut, and they plan to wed this summer. Trent has a bachelor of music degree from UW-Oshkosh with an emphasis on recording technology. He teaches private guitar and drum lessons.
The teacher’s interests outside of theater include working out, walking, reading and watching movies. She enjoys being outdoors and is a major animal lover, in particular cats and turtles. Music is also a big part of her life, and she plays the clawhammer banjo and some guitar. She loves to sing as well.
“My favorite actors and actresses are, by far, my students because they are always open to trying new things,” Colleen revealed.
As for roles she’s played or would like to play, Colleen said it would be difficult to choose a favorite role from the past or a dream role for the future. “I think there is something special about every role if you make it your own.”