Chin ’20 returns to the Theatre Department


Rowan Mally, Staff Writer

Visiting the Theatre Department was Dylan Chin’s ‘20 favorite part of his day as a student, and he just couldn’t stay away after he graduated, he said.

Chin postponed his freshman year at Emerson College to take on the role of Theatre Department Monitor and Assistant Technical Director for the upcoming school year. Chin was ecstatic to return to campus, he said. 

Chin, who plans on majoring in Theatre Performance, attributed his decision to take a gap year to COVID-19 restrictions that would have hindered his learning experience. “While in certain subjects, like English or history, the same material can be taught virtually, with Theatre you really have to be up on your feet and moving around to truly experience it,” he said.   

The lack of fulfillment Chin feels from finishing his senior year online was also a factor in his decision to return to the school, he said. “I was a ‘lifer’ and I felt really robbed at the end of last year because I missed milestones I looked forward to like in-person graduation and prom,” Chin said. “While I will not be able to specifically experience those events, being back on campus again certainly brings some closure to my 15-year journey at the school.”  

Chin saw the chance to work in the Theatre Department as a great way to refine his craft. “I would normally be auditioning for performance roles in my free time, but none of that is happening now,” he said. “With the new head of shop, Ms. Miller, and the best COVID-19 guidelines, I thought there was no better place to work.” 

As Theatre Department monitor, Chin manages social distancing protocols and helps out with tasks that previously fell through the cracks of the Theatre Department, Theatre Technical Director Caitie Miller said. These tasks range from ensuring students are socially distanced and wearing masks in the hallways around the Blackbox Theatre, to helping prepare for classes, he said. Since Miller is pregnant, Chin also serves as Assistant Technical Director. “[He] helps set up for class, lift heavy equipment, and help students use various tools,” Miller said. 

Theatre teacher Haila VanHentenryck could not imagine the department without Chin this year. “He has been incredibly helpful and is as reliable as we could ever ask,” she said. “Since he has been working with our technical equipment for years now, he is an expert.”

Dance teacher Denise Direnzo said Chin’s work was vital to the safety of the dance studio. “Before we came to school, he measured out the dance studio and helped us tape socially distanced squares on the floor,” she said. “He found a great system that was incredibly effective, and we’ll be using that all year.”

Theatre teacher Benjamin Posner was also impressed with Chin’s dedication and enthusiasm towards his work, he said. “He is hardworking, friendly, and supportive and he is sincerely happy to be here,” Posner said. “While it must be frustrating to have to put off the next chapter of his life for another year, I feel like this is a great opportunity to enjoy his final year on campus and truly say goodbye”

Chin particularly enjoys helping students understand and use technical equipment, in addition to giving tours of the theatre, he said. However, Chin is more than happy to help all the members of the Theatre Department with any tasks they may need, he said. 

“Dylan is a smart and enthusiastic Theatre lover,” Miller said. “He is always helpful and volunteering to take on more duties and more work and has truly made the Theatre department a better place.” 

“As a student I didn’t get to fully appreciate the Horace Mann community and environment because, as is everyone, I was stuck in the world of work and tests,” he said. Now, without the stress of schoolwork, Chin is more excited to be on campus everyday, he said.

Chin is especially thrilled to be able to focus purely on his favorite aspect of the school when he was a student, he said. “How great is it that I get to work in the department where I spent 99% of my time as a student? It’s amazing,” he said. 

Posner also believes that Chin’s return speaks to his connection to the Theatre Department, he said. “There is definitely a sense of pride knowing he loved our department so much that he wanted to come back and work with us,” he said.

“He is never not himself,” VanHentenryck said. VanHentenryck will miss Chin’s friendly and familiar presence in the Theatre Department when Chin leaves for college next school year, she said. 

While Chin said the school’s COVID-19 protocols certainly have an effect on the Theatre Department’s capabilities, he is more than happy with what the school still has to offer its theatre students, he said. “The masks and guidelines are a small price to pay when you get to come back and enjoy the school experience all over again,” he said.