When Veronica Bustoz was a student at Aquinas College, her life was consumed by theatre. “If I wasn’t in class then I was definitely at rehearsals,” she explained. However, it was her college’s production of ‘Those Shining Lives’ that has stayed with her throughout her professional career. Growing up, Bustoz didn’t have access to arts. It wasn’t till she was in high school that she was able to participate and learn about the theatre community. “I started with ushering and then moved on to the costume crew,” she elaborates, “ and then I was in a play myself and I loved it so much.” When she started out at the collegiate level, she dabbled in technical work along with performance but found her calling in stage management. “I got to see a little bit of everything during the production. It was exciting and it kept me engaged. I knew this was it for me,” she explains.
After graduating she worked as an assistant stage manager for Chicago-area theatres. She first worked for the House Theater in Chicago where she worked on plays like The Wizard of Oz and Death and Harry Houdini. She stayed there for a few years and immersed herself in the Chicago theatre community. “It’s so easy to network within this community,” she explains, “Everyone wants to see you succeed and they don’t mind pushing your name around.” This is how she was able to land a job at the Goodman Theater for their 2019/2020 season. She was there when the theater shut down because of Covid and it allowed her to reflect on which direction she wanted to take her career. She came across the MSLCE program and knew this was the next step for her.
“I was looking for a way to elevate what I had learned about theater thus far,” she elaborates,” I realized that I was more passionate about understanding where a non-profit organization got its strategy and how they served their community.” Bustoz wants to be involved in making the arts accessible to people of color and maximizing inclusiveness in nonprofit organizations. She believes that the pandemic has given the theater industry a chance to understand the degree of inequity that exists and to enact changes that will make it equitable for everyone.
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By Priyanshi Katare