We’ve all walked past the large building perched atop of Cascadilla Gorge, but few of us know exactly what goes on inside. The Schwartz Center is home to the Performing and Media Arts department at Cornell and showcases countless plays, musicals, dances, films and events throughout the year. It is also home to Hannah Shuman, a junior PMA major and aspiring film producer. We were able to sit down with Hannah and learn more about her adventures and aspirations in PMA.


Photo courtesy of Hannah Shuman
Photo courtesy of Hannah Shuman


How did you become interested in the arts? Did you always want to be a PMA major?

I started elementary school plays when I was little, but it was when I was in high school I realized that I wanted to create theater. So when I got to college, I convinced my parents to let me be a PMA major, with the promise that I’d consider going to law school — but I’m not going to law school. Ever since I came to Cornell I have been doing some acting and producing.


What areas can one explore in the PMA major?

The PMA major combines film, theater, and dance. So basically you can follow a track but it’s very broad, you have to learn a bit of everything. I personally did theater for my first couple of years, and now I’m switching into film, but it’s all in the same major.


What is one of your favorite shows you have produced, and your favorite show you’ve acted in on campus?

My favorite show I have acted in is Women of Lockerbie, which I was in fall of my freshman year. It was so fun because we got to learn Scottish accents. We were little freshman and had no idea what we were doing, and a senior just took a chance on us and let us be in the show. It was really awesome. I also got to produce my first show this semester, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Balch courtyard.


Women of Lockerbie 2014
Women of Lockerbie 2014


How can someone get involved in the theater and performing arts in Cornell if they aren’t in the PMA major?

It’s super easy. Most people that do theater at Cornell are not PMA majors (there’s like five of us). If you want to perform in a Schwartz show or be in the stage crew, or anything like that, there are auditions and meetings at the beginning of each semester. If you want to do something more laid back you can do a Risley show, which is run by students. It’s really easy to be involved, anyone can do it.


A Midsummer Night's Dream 2016
A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2016


What is your favorite Cornell memory?

I would say one of my favorite memories was performing in Women of Lockerbie. It was the best show ever and the first performance, it snowed. I’m from Florida and my friend who came to see the show that day is from California, so we left Schwartz after and just rolled around in the snow on the engineering quad. People we passing us like who are these idiots who have never seen snow.


What is one class within PMA that everyone should take?

Intro to Acting. Everyone should take that class.


10- Minute Playfest 2015
10- Minute Playfest 2015


Favorite professor on campus?

Probably Caroline Gelzer, she is an acting professor in PMA. She teaches Intro to Acting and the advanced courses.


What is your dream career?

To be a film producer.