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Live Performances Return to Purdue Fort Wayne with The World According to Snoopy

As COVID hit last spring, Austin Rausch was teaching and lending his costuming skills to productions at the Los Angeles Opera. When those productions ceased and his teaching moved to online, Rausch began looking for a new gig. With Craig Humphries retiring from Purdue Fort Wayne, Rausch learned of the opening in a city he never visited, moved into an apartment he’d never seen. Such is life during a pandemic.

Rausch also never got a chance to do much costuming last year either, given the lack of performances at the university’s Williams Theatre. But he found a silver lining in that scenario, finding himself focusing on teaching for the year.

“It was definitely different, but in retrospect it was a blessing in disguise,” Rausch said. “It was my first year teaching at the undergraduate level, and it allowed me to learn the politics of education. I found out what meetings I had to go to, what I needed to know to outside of the classroom. I got to know my colleagues, got to know my students. And since I wasn’t costuming, I was teaching four to five classes a semester. It was a real crash course in teaching so going into this year, I felt a lot more prepared.”

His break from design is now mercifully over, however. With this fall’s opening production, The World According to Snoopy, Rausch is able to create a look for some of the most beloved characters in American popular culture.

“I grew up in the Peanuts generation,” he said. “My parents watched all of the holiday shows, and getting to work on this show with the other designers – especially [director] James [Stover] – has been great. We had a vision for what this work should look like. I’m excited to finally be working on production, and this one is based in love and friendship. And it’s so colorful.”

With the Peanuts comic strip still available, and families continuing to gather each year for the Charlie Brown Christmas offering, there’s a timelessness to Peanuts that makes it perfect family fare for all generations of audiences. There’s plenty ahead this year for the PFW Department of Theatre including The Laramie Project, which will take the stage later this fall. It’s definitely a dramatic turn from Snoopy and Woodstock as it addresses the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming and the aftermath. Rausch is looking forward to his continued time in Fort Wayne and the return of live theatre to the campus.

“It’s a season of variety, and we’re looking forward to coming back to live theatre and live performances again.”

Performances run September 24-October 2. For more information, visit

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