Jun 11, 2024

Issy Block: Crafting a Brighter Future on Broadway

Alumni Highlight: Issy Block

Issy Block: Crafting a Brighter Future on Broadway

Issy Block, a 2017 Technical Theatre major, is making a significant impact on Broadway as an Entertainment Engineer for McLaren Engineering Group. Her work on multiple Tony-nominated and award-winning shows from the past season is a testament to her dedication to the behind-the-scenes world of theatre, which has captured her imagination since her time as a student at Dreyfoos. Her daily work life entails structural and mechanical engineering for live entertainment, involving the design and engineering of giant structures for shows that completely transform theaters. Issy and her team engineer and analyze the mechanisms that allow your favorite artists to fly through the air during concerts and ensure the safety and functionality of lifts that elevate and rotate performers many feet into the air. Their work encompasses a range of exciting and complex projects that bring dynamic and thrilling experiences to live audiences.

Dreyfoos provided Issy with a solid foundation in theater. Her daily work in the scene shop honed her carpentry skills and instincts, which are crucial in her current role. Additionally, Dreyfoos taught her effective communication skills, both within the theater world and in translating theater concepts to those outside the industry. After graduating from Dreyfoos in 2017, Issy furthered her education at Purdue University, earning a B.S.E. in Multidisciplinary Engineering with a Theater Engineering Concentration and a minor in Electrical Engineering, along with a B.A. in Theater Design and Production. Her impressive resume of work from the last season includes Broadway shows such as Here Lies Love and Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. She credits a key lesson she learned from her time at Dreyfoos for her ability to work in this field, stating, "The best art always incorporates science and math and vice versa." This insight has guided Issy's innovative approach to entertainment engineering.

During her time at Dreyfoos, Issy credits Ed Blanchette and Olive Bryan for playing pivotal roles in shaping her path. Some of Issy’s best memories at Dreyfoos include Saturday crew calls. She fondly recalls lunchtime during these calls, sharing that “the Saturday crew was always the best group filled with other students who had the same ambitions and cared as much as me. We were able to learn from each other while we worked and made great memories.” Their tradition of enjoying Publix subs, Gatorade, Doritos, and rainbow sugar cookies together created lasting bonds and memories. Her advice for current students is to, "Take advantage of your major. You're at Dreyfoos for a reason, and there are so many opportunities available to you that you can't get at other schools. ALSO (big also), your academic classes are just as important. When you find the balance between art and academia, your work will really shine!"

Issy's work on Broadway shows and her ongoing projects to enhance safety for stagehands in Broadway theaters stand out as her most significant professional achievements. Issy exemplifies the fusion of technical expertise and artistic passion, making a significant impact in the world of entertainment engineering. Her journey from Dreyfoos to Broadway highlights the importance of a well-rounded education and the lasting influence of dedicated mentors.