Alumni Angle: Madeline Bunke ‘14

A playbill from Bunke’s performance in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Photo by Hannah Burgess.

Originally hesitant to follow in the footsteps of her parents and older brother by attending Lawrence University, Madeline Bunke ’14 found herself drawn, nonetheless, to the school.

“When I visited, I realized it checked my two most important boxes. It was a small campus where I could really get to know my classmates and professors, and it was a place where I could study acting but also the myriad of other subjects that interested me,” Bunke said.

While at Lawrence, Bunke took advantage of the opportunity to explore several fields of interest, majoring in both theater and English while being involved with Melee Dance Troupe, singing for Cantala and Concert Choir and serving as a writing tutor for the Center for Academic Success.

Bunke was also heavily involved in the theater scene at Lawrence and mentioned the musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone” as well as her senior capstone project, “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball,” as especially outstanding experiences. Looking back on her time performing at Lawrence, Bunke said, “I wish I could do it again knowing what I know now, though, because at the time, I was so nervous about embarrassing myself that I didn’t allow myself to let go and have fun… College productions should be a time to experiment and enjoy yourself.”

Bunke was able to also experience other aspects of theater production through helping choreograph Lawrence’s production of “Grey Gardens” and by participating in a December Term class on playwriting.

“I am so grateful to have taken classes in other areas of theater making such as costume construction and stagecraft. These gave me tremendous respect for my colleagues,” Bunke reflected.

Over the course of her career and time at Lawrence, Bunke’s exploration of various subjects of interest and her majors in english and theater have worked together to provide her with better understandings of her acting choices and helped develop firm professional skills.

Bunke gave a personal example and explained, “I still think about my Biotechnology and Society class when I’m reading about innovative medical treatments in the news, and my course in Latin American History helps me understand current events happening there today.”

These important skills can be evidenced by Bunke’s many jobs outside of the realm of theater including working as a temp at a consulting firm, as a box office associate and, pulling from her tutoring skills, serving as a transcription editor.

Completing an English major also served to provide Bunke with deeper insights into theater. According to Bunke, “The close-reading skills I developed in my English classes help me immensely in analyzing scripts, from overarching themes to all possible interpretations of a single line.”

In the meantime, theater classes were a means for Bunke to develop professional skills. “The skills I learned in theater have also landed me numerous temp jobs, because employers recognize that I can juggle multiple tasks and schedules, work well in a group, memorize quickly and communicate professionally.”

These aspects of Bunke’s education at Lawrence have woven together to allow her to explore the world through many perspectives. Bunke is currently employing her theatrical talents in Chicago doing commercial and voiceover work as well as acting in Chicago TV shows such as “Empire” and “Chicago Fire.”

Bunke is still deeply immersed in stage craft as well, performing for several Chicago theaters such as Oil Lamp Productions, in which she is currently working on the show “Love, Loss, and What I Wore.”

Bunke expressed gratefulness for her personal educational experiences at Lawrence as well as to the community which Lawrence fosters. “I am happy to say that Lawrence is a community that extends beyond campus. The alumni network helped me out when I moved to Chicago, both socially and professionally,” Bunke explained.

Chicago has proven to be an excellent place for Bunke to explore her profession. “Chicago is an amazing place to be an actor because it has thriving artistic scenes of all genres, from theater to improv to television to voiceover.

Even though it is a large city, the community is tight-knit, and everyone is looking to grow and support their peers. It strikes that perfect balance between homey Midwestern friendliness and energetic urban drive.”

Overall, Bunke emphasized the importance of Lawrence’s liberal arts education as a way to mold students into what Bunke described as “interesting citizens of the world” who she said, “can bridge communication gaps and consider different solutions to problems.”

To Bunke, the dedication to learning exhibited by both students and professors alike contributes to the development of these citizens of the world through fostering curiosity. Bunke exclaimed, “Curiosity makes life so much more interesting!”