#ElonGrad 2022 spotlight: Shannon O’Shaughnessy, drama and theatre studies

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.

Shannon O'Shaughnessy in graduation gownElon College Fellow Shannon O’Shaughnessy ’22 immersed herself in theater, music and dance to develop broad skills in preparation for a career in the performing arts.

A drama and theatre studies major with minors in music and dance, she chose the interdisciplinary major because she wanted to build a foundation in dramaturgy, the literary and thematic advising of a production, direction and writing.

“I love that I have had opportunities to explore different paths within the performing arts and I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned from those opportunities into my career,” O’Shaughnessy said.

While at Elon, O’Shaughnessy was selected as a student dramaturg in Elon’s production of “The Wolves” and assistant director of “Sense and Sensibility.”

What faculty say:

“Shannon consistently offers the most insightful analyses of whatever play we happen to be reading that day. She’s a heavy-hitter in terms of theory, in particular — very adept at reading work through various lenses,” Associate Professor of English Scott Proudfit said.

Tell us about your re-imagining of classic musicals for modern audiences and inclusivity.

My research project for the Fellows program was “Adapting Golden Age Musical Theatre for the Contemporary Audience to Increase Access for the Marginalized and Disenfranchised.” I selected this topic because I have always loved Golden Age musicals, however they tend to include outdated points of view and I wanted to explore how we could maintain the core of the show without maintaining the sexism embedded within them. This culminated in an adaptation of “She Loves Me,” the 1963 Harnick and Bock musical. I presented my research on SURF Day 2020, as well as with Elon New Works.

Who was your mentor and how did they encourage your growth and achievement?

I was extremely lucky to have close relationships with many professors who have shaped my time here at Elon, but through my research I worked the most closely with Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Kim Shively. Her mentorship encouraged me to push beyond what I felt comfortable doing and supported me in the moments of uncertainty.

In addition to my research, I worked with her both as a student dramaturg and then as her assistant director, and both of those experiences caused me to pursue dramaturgy and direction after graduation. She saw talent in me that I didn’t know I had, and her belief in my talent motivated me to accomplish much more than I thought I would when I came in as a first-year.

What are your post-Elon plans?

Following graduation I am moving to New York City to pursue a career in the performing arts as an actor, dramaturg and director.

Is there an achievement you’re particularly proud to leave Elon with?

One experience that shaped my time here at Elon was performing in this past fall’s mainstage production of “42nd Street.” It is a classic musical that the Elon Performing Arts program wanted to re-imagine, and the opportunity to experience that re-imagining of a classic musical as a performer, rather than through my Fellows research, was amazing. It was extremely fulfilling to embody what I have spent the last four years researching, as well as to perform in one of my dream shows.

What advice would you give future students?

If I could give any advice to future Elon students it would be to build relationships with the people around you. The Elon Community is truly so special, and my time here would not have been the same without the students and professors I was lucky enough to meet.