Physics and Theater Major
Keegan Siebken chose Knox because he could pursue physics
and theater. To be or not to be, that is the question -- or not.
When Knox junior Keegan Siebken was in high school and visiting college campuses, he says many had a problem with theatre and physics as a double major and told him it couldn't be done. But, not Knox College. "When I came to Knox, and said what do you think about theater and physics as a double major? They said "That's not a problem.""
He also noticed Knox students seemed more engaged in what they were doing than those at other colleges. "I got a better overall feel of the Knox campus. They had a really great balance of hanging out and relaxing, and getting all of their work finished. And, everybody wants everyone else to succeed. There is no sense of needing others to fail so I can get ahead. I told my mom to put down a deposit the very next day."
This summer, Siebken's performance took him off the stage for a behind the scenes role. He was hired as first location manager/ production manager for Bonesteel Films, from North Carolina. The company is producing a documentary on Carl Sandburg for the PBS American Masters Series and needed someone who knew the area and who could furnish props for filming. Siebken, a native of Galesburg, Illinois, was perfect for the part.
Working off script
He says the experience was more than just fun. "I tremendously respect people who do technical work. They tend to lose more sleep than actors do. It also gave me experience in practical things I can use in any job like the ability to work quickly, get people to cooperate, and just work with people." He hired actors, scavenged locations for just the right dirt road, farm house, railroad track, theater, covered bridge, and dug through costumes and props at Knox College props storage and the local antique mall.
But he also learned to adapt. "It was a little out of my element, because I've done more acting, and this was really behind-the-scenes. It was new and really fast and I needed to do things fast, so it got chaotic sometimes. Things change a lot when everybody gets there, and you have to be ready for change. And that's probably the biggest thing that I learned."
Still prefers acting
From his first acting class, Siebken credits Professor Liz Carlin Metz and Kelly Lynn Hogan, a visiting instructor in Theatre, along with the entire theatre department as being instrumental in his development as an actor in the past two years.
"I want to try the Chicago theater scene for a while. I like the feel of the city, and a lot of Knox grads are up there, and Chicago has a lot of good theater."
Siebken also applauds the physics department. "The professors all have been really great -- especially Professor Tom Moses. You can see it on his face that he wants you to understand and learn. He really fosters optimism."
He delivers the familiar lines echoed by many Knox students before him. "Knox faculty put the Knox students first. And, traditions at Knox are examples of how Knox is awesome. It's just a great environment. I'm still getting a great college experience."
Which role he will perform after graduation? "I can't give up theater or physics at the moment," he says. "Physics is concrete and theater is freer. If I don't have both, then I'm not satisfied. So, it's more about me needing both of them rather than knowing what I'm going to do later with them."
Siebken is tinkering with a possible career in the automotive industry as a mechanical engineer. "I am really interested in propulsion. I really like the idea of taking tremendous amounts of power and mashing things into each other and seeing what comes out of them and understanding the tiny little bits that make up everything."
While he agrees that theater and physics don't seem to cross at all, Siebken says it is more about opening your own mind to new things. He says that building a character involved the same break down into tiny parts that he performs in physics. "In acting, you need to figure out how to make a character believable in every single moment. So it's always building off of little things to make the big thing. There's not much practical application of that similarity, but they do have that similarity. That's cool."
Siebken also works in Knox's computer center, is an ambassador for Knox's Admissions department and holds a station operations position at Galesburg Broadcasting.