Northwest hires new theater director

Following the retirement of current director Steve Landes, Northwest will welcome Sydney Kohart to the theater department.


Photo from SMN website

Sydney Kohart (middle) stands with other SMN theater teachers.

Maddie Oliver, Chief Writer

After former drama teacher and theater director Steve Landes announced his retirement at the end of the 2020 school year,  BVNW prepares to welcome a new teacher to the drama department, Sydney Kohart. During a Zoom call to welcome Kohart on May 13, assistant principal Andrew Addington said he was excited to welcome Kohart, due to her theater experience and ability to push students to their highest potential.

“We are incredibly excited to have her at Northwest not only from a teaching perspective but from a theater perspective,” Addington said. “Her background is phenomenal and we are really pumped to have her breathe some life into our theater program and push [the theater students] to put on a really high quality performance as we know you are all capable of.”

During her attendance at the Miller Marley dance studio beginning in first grade, Kohart said her interest in theater began to grow. Later, when she attended Shawnee Mission South High School, Kohart said she knew she wanted to pursue theater when she went to college.

“I got hooked into theater as a lot of teachers [at Miller Marley] direct at Theater in the Park or with other groups in the community,” Kohart said. “My interest was further fueled when I went to Shawnee Mission South and got to be a part of a really great theater program. I knew I always wanted to study it further when I went to college.”

After attending Texas Christian University with a BFA in Theater with an emphasis in acting, Kohart said she later began to work at Shawnee Mission North as a theater and English teacher. Since she was divided between two subjects at SMN, Kohart said she wanted the job at Northwest to focus on theater only.

“I always taught both English and theater and I was just really ready to jump all in with a full-time theater position,” Kohart said. I wanted to focus all my energy on [theater] rather than be divided all the time.”

Due to being hired during a pandemic, Kohart said she has no idea what her year will look like and what criteria she will have. Kohart said she believes she will use her old theater lessons from SMN, as well as using suggestions of the students in the BVNW Drama club.

Drama club president Declan Franey said he is happy to work with Kohart, explaining that her positive drive will change the overall mindset of everyone involved in the theater department and running the shows and musicals.

“I am really excited to work with Ms. Kohart. I think her energy is going to help our program and the people in it become more excited and passionate about Northwest theatre,” Franey said.

To any student wanting to join the theater department in the coming years, Kohart said that theater isn’t just acting and that many nonacting abilities can be put to use in shows and musicals.

“Theater is one of those art forms that requires so many diverse skill sets to be successful. Even if you’re not necessarily someone that wants to be on the stage, something you are good at can be applied to theater,” Kohart said. “I think there are stories worth telling and perspectives that need to be heard that we get to honor through the craft of theater. I hope [the students are] excited to explore that and get to share that with audiences next year.”