Nebraska Engineering Fall, 2005
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Simply Service
Chemical Engineering’s newest staff member is committed to her community

Kandra Hahn has long believed in serving her community. “I believe in what people do as a group,” she said. “Life is better when we’re thinking about what we can all do together, as a community.” Her life reflects a diverse range of experiences and her commitment to service. She has been elected to public office twice—as Clerk of the District Court and as the Lancaster County Clerk and she was appointed director of the Nebraska Energy Office when Bob Kerrey was governor. Hahn also served as the assistant director for business affairs of the University of Nebraska Press and is the administrative coordinator for the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Kandra Hahn stands in the doorway of the Wyuka Cemetery Swan Theatre.
Kandra Hahn stands in the doorway of the Wyuka Cemetery Swan Theatre.

Photos by Tom Slocum
Kandra Hahn stands in the doorway of the Wyuka Cemetery Swan Theatre.
As passionate as Hahn is about serving her community, she is equally passionate about Shakespeare, whose work she has enjoyed since reading “Julius Caesar” in the 7th grade. She has been able to combine service and Shakespeare through the Flatwater Shakespeare Company, which was co-founded by Bob Hall, a longtime member of the Lincoln theater community. Hahn met Hall at a party and thought he was phenomenal. “I knew then I wanted to work with him and do whatever I could to support his efforts.” Since then, she has taken on many roles within the company—fundraising, maintaining mailing lists, helping the company obtain nonprofit status and audience development. Her efforts are strictly voluntary, but the Flatwater Shakespeare Company is a cause that Hahn feels is well worth her time. “In an intangible way, the arts can enter into a community and work at a level you can’t see and make a difference,” Hahn said. “The best way I can help is to make this contribution to the community by sharing my business acumen.”

Though the Company only recently incorporated, many of the players, technicians and volunteers have worked together for the last five years to deliver critical and box office success. During the summer, they hold productions at the Wyuka Cemetery Swan Theatre, located in the interior courtyard of the old stables—an open-air environment that provides a Shakespeare-like atmosphere. “When you’re at Wyuka, you feel like you’re in London during the 16th century,” Hahn said. During the winter, the company stages productions at the Haymarket Theatre and even in The Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theatre. Recent shows include “Henry V” and “Measure for Measure.”

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company is unique in that it is Lincoln’s only professional Shakespeare acting troupe. “Bob Hall is known for minimalist settings and dramatic costumers. The money goes to getting good actors because people come to Shakespeare for the language,” Hahn said. In addition to the theatre productions, the Flatwater Shakespeare Company supports the Second Best Bed Society, a support group for the company that meets a week before each production to foster community interest in the play. The group draws upon Lincoln scholars, such as UNL English professor Stephen Buhler who is also the education director of the Company, to contribute their expertise. “Adults can find entertainment through intelligent discussion. They can laugh or be riveted to their seats,” Hahn said. Recently, Buhler and Lincoln Public Schools teacher Anne Cognard, gave a Shakespeare lecture to 200 guests at a fundraising event at the Lincoln Country Club. “They had the audience enthralled.”

When she’s not serving Shakespeare, Hahn also serves on the board of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. She is regularly called upon as a speaker with the Nebraska Humanities Council, for her speech entitled “It All Started When They Taught Us to Read: Women in America,” and she teaches yoga twice a week at the YWCA and the Federal Building. “There are many ways to touch people’s lives,” Hahn said. “My varied experiences make perfect sense to me.”

—Roxane Gay