PCS Blog

Actor Sharonlee McLean on Becoming a Typographer

Posted by Alice Hodge | 14 October 2014

With 22 - yes, 22 - shows on our stages under her belt, actor Sharonlee McLean is about the closest thing to a company member as it gets here at PCS. For her latest performance as Margaret the Typographer in The Typographer's Dream by Adam Bock, she spent a day learning the craft of typography with show sponsors and creative agency heartthrob, AHA!

Sharonlee writes about becoming a typographer and the question "Are you your job?"

On Wednesday September 17th as part of The Typographer's Dream rehearsal process I was assigned to participate in job shadowing at a company called AHA!.

I was greeted by a lovely person named Madeline who writes their blog. She gave me a short tour. The atmosphere was youthful, well designed with open spaces and personalized desk areas. They were building a think table. A think table.

I was able to meet Corey and Jon. They are working on deadlines and could not really take the time to meet and greet. I think they were working on content. 


I was then introduced to a guy named Ryan who preferred to stand at his adjustable desk. He started to readjust the desk and I said “No. Let’s stand together." And so we did for about two hours. He let me be part of a project he was working on that dealt with Employer Employee relationships. Every time I got something right we high fived. Had to. It was too much fun. He showed me fonts, typefaces, typesets, language and the emotional impact of this particular project. We talked about colors and layouts. I kept saying it was simple and to the point.  I felt like the employee cared about his employees. That if I was his employee I would stay longer than five years. (Wait. Is five years too short? I’m an actor — what do I know?) I would read everything outloud to him. I hope I wasn’t bothering the other employees who had their own deadlines. I had questions about some of my lines in my script. Because of John, I now might come across as if I know what I am talking about. At least, I hope so. 

They gave me my very own desk for about twenty minutes. I was able to look over my script and ask additional questions if I needed to.

Madeline and another employee named Julia took me to lunch. At lunch I started a Q & A with them — asking about their lives and what brought them both to AHA!. Turns out they are both artistic in their own way.

When we got back Julia gave me three books to look over. She said these books inspire her. They were informative. Extremely, visually informative.

Madeline did a shout out email to the employees. I thought it would be interesting to have a Q & A with some of the staff. The questions were:

  • Are you your job?
  • What were you like as a child and what drove you to the path where you are today? 
  • What do you do in your spare time and is it related, in some way, to your job? 

I spoke to a woman named Vanessa. In childhood she loved cartoons and drawing. She said she is a visual person. She doesn’t think she is her job. She is a designer and in her spare time she still loves to design. Whatever shape or form it might take.

I received an email from Melissa Dalluhn who is also an employee. She switched careers. Academia did not fulfill her: “You need to be a certain kind of person to do this work: well-focused, problem solving, collaborative, in love with learning."  She is a visual thinker. She is in the process of writing a novel and a graphic novel in her free time. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and painting. All related, in some ways, to her job.

A remarkable experience. Helpful and informative. Now I think I might be able to serve Adam Bock’s story a bit more realistically.



The Typographer's Dream runs through Nov. 16



Comments (0)

There are no comments for this entry yet.

Join the conversation!

Portland Center Stage welcomes your comments and criticism.

We invite you to share your comments with us on our Facebook page.


For current and upcoming shows, please see our Season Calendar.

Sign up for the PCS email list.

Season Sponsors