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"Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to have found a number of mentors who have helped to shape me as an artist but perhaps no one has done this more than Stephanie Sandberg. Stephanie is the type of Director that actors dream of working with. Within her productions she is able to create a space in which everyone feels empowered to create and take risks. This environment allowed me to push through previous boundaries and make extraordinary breakthroughs in both my personal and professional life. Through working with Stephanie I have seen myself and others transform- she inspires artists, nurtures them, and demands their best."  

-- Lorien Reese



"Stephanie Sandberg is quite possibly one of the most intelligent, driven, and passionate women I have ever come across in my life. She cares so much of the art of theatre and has taught me the importance of our own global history in its relation to theatre as well as how all our actions are integral as a whole to who we are.


As a student in her theatre history classes, I was educated not only in the "history of theatre", but also the political, religious, and civil occurrences that mesh with what artists constructed and presented with their own feelings and interpretations onstage. The Greeks, the Elizabethans, and the Modernists are all perfect examples of art imitating life and providing a message that is memorable. In this class series,


I learned how nothing operates alone in this world, and that everything has an impact on how we live our lives. Stephanie is a walking and shining example as to what a liberal arts educator should be. She introduced me to more progressive thought, and showed me how something classic can be reinterpreted with a modern sensibility to reach a further audience.


That is what theatre performance and education is all about, to share a message with the audience that will impact them."  

-- Erin Demoray

"Dr. Sandberg was my favourite professor at Calvin, my director, colleague and my friend. Since I've graduated, I have held every theatre director I've worked with up to her teaching standard and they have never been able to match her. She has equal amounts of knowledge, skill, and passion, which are all grounded in a deep and vibrant spirituality. Stephanie truly works with subjects and theatrical methods that connect students' knowledge and skill more deeply to their faith and also more widely to their community. Her courage and unflagging creative energy are an inspiration to me and countless others."  -- Rena Dam

"I first met Prof. Sandberg through the directing seminar she taught 
during my junior year. Quickly, I recognized her as a kindred spirit in 
the arts, someone deeply committed to the artistic languages of mystery 
as well as to her Christian faith. Over the next year Prof. Sandberg 
introduced me to a number of world-class productions in London and 
Chicago, all the while encouraging and inspiring me to pursue the arts 
whole-heartedly and training me in the director’s craft. Beyond my 
direct relationship with her, I have immense respect for her commitment 
to tapping the potentials of theater to promote community life in Grand 
Rapids and Calvin College. I count myself fortunate having experienced 
the fruit of these commitments in beautiful productions like Midsummer
The Metamorphoses, and Grains of Hope. Prof. Sandberg is an excellent 
teacher, an artist who leads by example and invests deeply in each of 
her students." -- David Witwer

"Dr. Sandberg's passion and dedication to the intersections of theater, community, and justice is inspiring and transformative. Dr. Sandberg creates imaginative, powerful theater that asks difficult questions and explores darkness, while still containing aspects of redemption. As a director, she challenges actors, designers, and writers alike to bring their very best, most authentic work to the stage. Dr. Sandberg's creativity, expertise, and heart would be an excellent addition to any classroom or stage." -- Abi Koning

"During the Fall of 2013 I went on an impeccable journey to Ghana, Africa with the lovely Stephanie Sandberg. While we were there we had to do an internship in a village somewhere in Ghana.


My internship was to be done in Adenkrebi, Grand Rapids' sister city. And my internship was a theatre internship in Applied Theatre. Thanks to Stephanie's teachings of theatre and ethnography I wasn't too scared with what I had to do, which was to interview, record, write, produce, and direct a play. We were to work with the JSS students (junior high).


It was a thrilling experience! We had about a month to work on this! Our goal was to make a place to show the health issues in the village to a number of NGOs who could raise money for a holistic health clinic. When the day of the play came we were scared that no one was going to come. The time that we were going to start started to roll around and there was no one there.


And then... The Chief of the village and his entourage showed up! Along with almost everyone from the village! It was a beautiful sight. I'm so thankful to Stephanie Sandberg for her trust, faith, and teachings. She is truly amazing! We raise the money for the clinic that day and I saw the power of theatre at work!

P.S. And the health clinic is almost finished in Adenkrebi!" -- Maggie Ferntheil

"My sophomore year of college, I spent a semester living in Ghana, which was perhaps one of the most influential and meaningful periods of my life. Stephanie was the leader of the program and also served as the professor for an ethnography course we took. That course, and Stephanie’s guidance and fervor throughout it, was instrumental in teaching me the value of using stories as a means to understand cultures and people. Sharing in Stephanie’s clear passion was a gift, and it taught me the possibilities of using cultural analysis as a means to promote justice, equality, and to confront privilege in all walks of life. Although I am a biologist now, and Stephanie’s career in theater looks quite different than mine, her influence, strength, and vocation were deeply influential in changing the way I see the world and how I choose to use my life to bring reconciliation to it."

-- Katy Gerber

"When I was Stephanie's student at Calvin we were almost the same age, because she's a prodigy. And I was lucky to have her as one of my professors.


Stephanie is active in theatre around the world as an agent of change, working with renowned artists in cultural hubs like New York City, Dublin, Ireland and even Ghana. And through it all, she always involves her students. That is gold for students who want to transition from an academic environment into a professional one.  


Months after graduating from Calvin, I was in a play about AIDS at the Actor's Theatre, called "Lonely Planet," directed by Stephanie Sandberg. I've now worked professionally as an actor in such plays as Venus and Fur, Red, Crimes of the Heart, I've been on Law and Order, All my Children, and Gossip Girl. "Lonely Planet" is the most meaningful play I've been a part of and had the most lasting effect on who I am today. I'm grateful that she is in my life, and that I had the pleasure of learning from her." -- Lucas VanEngen 

"Dr. Sandberg is an EXCELLENT educator. I had the privilege to study under and be directed by her in shows for a couple years and was left wishing I could have had AT LEAST a couple more.


She is CONSTANTLY growing and learning as an academic which allows her to bring new insights to all she does. On a personal level, she has ALWAYS seen MORE in me than I was ever able to see in myself. When I saw that SHE believed in me, I figured I might as well too! She was ALWAYS challenging me to rise to unique occasions and opportunities she presented to me.


She gave me the gift of self-confidence and the ability to trust and lean into my art. For this I am FOREVER changed and ETERNALLY grateful." -- Amanda Hutchins

Student Testimonials


Stephanie Sandberg saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. When I was a senior in high school, she visited as a judge for a Fine Arts competition and gifted me with a depth of affirmation I had never experienced before. Little did I know how much our stories would intertwine in the 15 years since then – allowing me to know her as a director, professor, collaborator, and friend – and little did I know how much she would continue to push me beyond the limits I had unknowingly set for myself. Stephanie is known for her ceaseless drive, her productivity, her razor-sharp intelligence, her boldness, and her deep wells of creativity. Those are her public faces. But what I have also come to see, over time, is a woman with empathy at her core. A woman with a pursuit of justice infusing her every cell and decision. A woman who works tirelessly behind the scenes to do anything and everything she can to help others thrive. Through her, I have come to understand what it means to be an artist. She has trailblazed it. She has shown me the way.  -- David Ellens

"Dr. Sandberg is both a creative theatre-maker and a passionate teacher who brings life and energy into the rehearsal space and classroom. Her knowledge of the history of theatre married with her work in social justice results in deeply moving performances and applicable in-class discussions. In addition to her strong academic and professional background, Stephanie is a compassionate mentor who encourages her students to pursue what they love in a modern-day context."  


                              --Emily Wetzel, 2016


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