Patrick Strain '91

Connections to Luther

Several things drew Patrick to Luther. He loved how close it was to Rochester, Minn., his hometown, and knew the small size would allow him to become close with his professors. But what truly persuaded him to attend Luther was the mentoring of his high school band teacher. “He was ’81 Luther grad and Sperati Award Winner, James Ripley,” Patrick says. “He introduced me to Luther through the Dorian Band Festival and I quickly fell in love with the size and beauty of the campus and Oneota Valley, the friendliness of the students and faculty, and the academic excellence. His taking us students to Mabe’s didn’t hurt either!”

Patrick found the close connections he wanted from his professors in the theatre program. He started as a lighting board operator. The faculty soon realized his love of writing, and encouraged him to write plays, which he did. Besides writing and acting, Patrick worked on the scenery, lighting, and/or sound of every production between the fall of 1987 and the spring of 1991. As he puts it, “I was fully steeped in the art of theatre and there was no going back.”

Growing in Faith at Luther

Patrick took advantage of Luther’s religious roots while in college. He regularly attended chapel and was a member of Brothers and Sisters in Christ. He learned to connect the plays he wrote in the theatre program to his faith. “My view as a playwright is that we are presenting sermons to the congregation who doesn’t come on Sunday,” he says. He was able to connect his faith to all aspects of his life at Luther, and kept that faith when he graduated.

Life as a Freelance Theatre Artist

Patrick has been working consistently as a freelance theatre artist since he graduated. He has worked not only in the Midwest, but in Germany, where he was a faculty member for the University of Maryland and a designer. He has designed and built sets and written plays for high schools, universities, regional theatres, and a variety of other venues.  

He attributes his success to the intimacy of Luther’s theatre program. It enabled him to do a little bit of everything: he built and painted, acted and directed, wrote and designed, which is a rare opportunity in a profession that regularly pushes people into one area or the other. “I was able to dive deeply and broadly into the art form and learn it from the inside out,” he says.

Advice for First-Year Students

Nurture your relationship with God. Go to chapel in the CFL. Sneak out back of the Union on a moonless fall night and listen under in the stars. If someone asks you to go to Vespers, go--even if you have no idea what a “Vesper” is.

The faculty worked with me to tailor a course list that fulfilled my gradation requirements as well as my educational needs.