By Jenny Collins '05
Theatre graduates Eric ’08 and Larisa (Deckert ’08) Netterlund are best friends who love to do everything together. This spring, they finished their master’s degrees together at the University of North Dakota—Eric in communication studies and Larisa in theatre.
Larisa explained that Eric changed fields for her since it would be hard for the pair to get jobs together in theatre. Eric said communication studies offers him “a happy medium between the applied nature of theatre and the abstract nature of philosophy,” two fields he considered pursuing further.
Their respective fields complement their personalities. Larisa points out that “Eric would much rather research and write than teach his classes. I love teaching, but struggle with the research and writing.” Eric agreed they are “both kind of introverted and definitely nerdy.”
Larisa acknowledged that in her theatre work, she tends to “gravitate towards work that recognizes the soul and the need for something greater in our lives.” She said, “These works open up great conversations about God and give me opportunities to talk about my faith.” For her thesis production, Larisa said a cast member requested that they pray before shows after she shared her pre-show experiences at NWC.
“For me, studying theatre is learning a language to bring to a particular culture—just like missionaries do,” shared Larisa. “I need to speak their language in order to bring the Truth to dark places.”
A MATCH MADE IN THEATRE
The two became friends as freshmen after meeting in a speech workshop at NWC, but as their experiences in theatre grew, so did their interest in each other. Knowing how much “drama” can be created by theatre romances, the two worked to keep their mutual interest off radar.
That goal became almost comedic when professor of theatre Donald “Doc” Rainbow took Eric under his wing and tried to “set him up” and encouraged him to take a different girl to the spring banquet. Larisa shared that once their relationship was official their junior year, Rainbow “gave his blessing” and the couple married in 2008.
This summer, the Netterlunds are relocating to the Rocky Mountains, where Eric will pursue a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Larisa hopes to teach theatre. Eric plans to continue his work examining online communities and the subcultures that develop from social networking platforms and how these subcultures participate in politics.