Isaiah Custer ’14
Communications manager, Taproot Theatre, Seattle, Washington


Several internship-style roles at Taproot Theatre in Seattle led to Isaiah's first job there, as marketing associate. Now Taproot's communications and group sales manager, he coordinates media coverage of the plays and select actors and directors, and manages Taproot Theatre's website and social media presence. He also serves as writer/editor for several Taproot newsletters and oversees promotion and accommodation for group ticket sales.

What do you enjoy about your job as a communications director for Taproot Theatre?

One of my favorite parts of working at a theatre is that each show presents a new challenge. Different shows have different themes, actors and audiences. So I need to create distinct publicity pitches, emails, newsletters and social media content for each. I have to discover what's special about this show, like has one of the actors performed in a movie or on TV? For example, Laura Kenny, who acted in a recent Taproot Theatre play, was in 10 Things I Hate About You and is cast in the Twin Peaks reboot. 

In what ways did Northwestern prepare you for the job you have now and the career you hope to have in the future?

I chose Northwestern because I knew I wanted to be a theatre major, and I came in, as many do, as an actor. I was cast in a show during my first week of college. After that, while I had additional acting roles, I also worked on run crew and set crew. I was props master, co-scenic designer, stage manager, paint charge and costume designer. I added an arts administration minor and dipped my toes into classes in accounting, marketing, advertising and graphic design. The beauty of Northwestern is the breadth of opportunities and a diverse education that has already enabled me to work professionally as a stage manager, scenic designer, and light and sound board operator.

What do you appreciate most about your Northwestern theatre education?

My theatre professors had such a strong commitment to details and excellence that rather than having to explicitly demand it of us, we just had an ingrained sense that excellence was the rule. I've applied that expectation of self-excellence to all my professional roles so far, and it's served me well.

What advice would you give theatre students who want a full-time career in theatre?

I won't sugarcoat it: A career in theatre isn't a given. But if you are passionate about theatre and invest yourself in all the opportunities you'll have at Northwestern, you'll set yourself up for success. Many of my NWC peers are either working in theatre or are in graduate school, so I know it's possible to make a living as a theatre artist. One of the best things I did was intern at a company where I could see myself working after college. While it's not a guarantee that an internship will turn into a job, there are great benefits nonetheless. You're able to work with a professional company where the stakes are lower than they'll be at your first job because you're just there just to learn. Work as hard as you can to show your internship supervisor what you're capable of, and, if nothing else, you'll at least get a good recommendation, if not a job offer.