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January 2, 2014

Who’s Sitting Next to You?


Editor’s Note: This post is a part of a series featuring our audience! Do you know someone who should be featured? Email suggestions to or feel free to snap a photo and ask a question and send it to us.

rachel-pernickRachel Pernick is a sophomore undergraduate student at the University of Michigan in the Residential College. She is from Huntington Woods, Michigan. This is her second season ushering.

Kate Gorman (UMS Front of House Coordinator): What inspires you to be an excellent usher?

Rachel: As a student at the U-M, and this being only my second year living in Ann Arbor, I am entirely and constantly in awe of the staggering season listings and lineups that this city continues to bring to its citizens, who are ever-dedicated to the arts.

Especially as a young person in a crowd of often older folks, I hope to serve as a sort of pioneer and encourage younger folks to embrace the arts opportunities this city has to offer. I often find myself just as (if not more!) excited for a performance than the patrons are, even, and I know that my passion for the arts comes across in my interactions with patrons!

evelynn-hawkinsEvelynn Hawkins (public radio broadcaster) was sitting next to Beth Gilliland (UMS Tessitura Systems Administrator).

Beth: To you, what does it mean to “be present” during a performance or another arts experience?

Evelynn: In the sense that you’re physically there – you are “present.” You are catching a moment in a singular time and place. But something is “different.” Artists feed off the audience – they are like food for an artist. You can tell – you can feel it in the audience. Even the audience feeds off of the audience. Experiencing improv at this performance is like a cat’s cradle – it is still just a string – but something always changing.

Beth: Do you have a favorite place in the world or in Ann Arbor?

Evelynn: I love the West Coast – the mountains, the trees, the ocean – it has it all!!

elisabeth-kElisabeth K., 12, was sitting next to Sara Billmann (UMS Director of Marketing & Communications).

Sara: Why did you come to this performance?

Elisabeth: Because my mom made me.

Sara: What’s the most memorable concert you’ve been to at Hill Auditorium?

Elisabeth: Last year, my class came on a field trip for the New Orleans jazz concert.

Sara: On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the absolute most horrible thing your mother ever made you do and 10 being the most awesome, how does this concert rank?

Elisabeth: 9.25

Do you know someone who should be featured on “Who’s Sitting Next to You”? Are you sitting next to someone at a performance right now? Send us a recommendation, or a quick Q&A with a photo to