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Carrying on the Lindahl legacy at Brookwood

As a child Laura Lindahl used to play in the theatre seats at Brookwood High School and look for change while her parents Ken and Patty Lindahl directed student plays.

Laura Lindahl

“I learned all the lines of plays while the students practiced their parts,” she recollected. Theatre was definitely in her blood and throughout high school, the 1992  Brookwood grad enjoyed theatre with her parents as teachers. Her senior year, she won the State of Georgia Thespian Scholarship and Best Actress for her roles in Evita and Into the Woods at BHS.

“There was never a question about the path I would take,” she said. “Theatre was a part of my life.” After receiving her BFA in 1997 from the University of Mississippi she sang and danced on cruise ships for several years then moved to Southern California and for the next eight years worked in numerous theatres.

She always knew, however, that she wanted to be back south with her family and settle down. “Life as an actress is not easy and I knew this was where I was headed,” she said.

What she didn’t realize was that she would take the place of her talented parents as theatre teacher at Brookwood.

Patty and I decided in January to retire at the end of the (2013) school year,” Ken Lindahl stated.. “We talked with our daughter, Sara who teaches theatre at West Hall High School and was Georgia Theatre Teacher of the Year in 2010 about applying for the job, but she was Teacher of the Year there last year, had commitments and didn’t want to leave.

“Then Laura who was working in a play in Chicago at the time but planning to move back home, said, ‘I might be interested in that.’” Lindahl said their response was, “Really?”

She interviewed with Peeples and Principal Debbie Dees and got the job.

“I love it even more than I thought I would!” Laura Lindahl exclaimed. “I always wanted a job where I could help people. I saw the impact my parents had on my friends that they taught and realized I could do that, too.”

It’s early in her new role but she thinks the kids she is teaching are awesome.

“We have been getting to know each other, doing improvs and auditions for two weeks. We’ve casted for Night of the Living Dead and Raggedy Ann and Andy and done read-throughs,” she explained. “Each student is involved whether it’s doing make up, working on sets, or acting.

“It gives then a chance to explore to see what else they are interested in plus, they all have to crew at least one show to become a Thespian.”

In addition to the opening play Night of the Living Dead playing October 10 and 12 and Raggedy Ann and Andy playing November 14 and 16, Lindahl will be working with her former chorus teacher, Kim Peeples to produce the musical Sweet Charity on December 12 and 14.

That seems like a lot going on for a first year teacher but Lindahl says she takes it one step at a time.

“I prioritize, I’m careful not to get too far ahead of myself and I’m not afraid to ask for help,” she said. “It’s definitely manageable and completely different life from life as an actor.”

Lindahl says it’s great to come back to the school where she has so many memories and friends.

Eight of those hired this years are Brookwood grads and it’s fun seeing the familiar faces as I walk the halls,” she said. “Brookwood was a home away from home for so long and so it’s just so very comfortable.”

There also are a couple of her former teachers who are still at Brookwood, one being Peeples who, with Ken Lindahl’s retirement is now head of the fine arts department.

“It is very exciting to work with Laura,” Peeples said. “I worked with the Lindahls for so long and it was heartbreaking for them to leave. We were like best friends and I thought, ‘Oh, boy this is going to be such a learning curve with someone new.’
“It was so perfect when Laura was hired. She is doing an incredible job.”

Peeples added that sometimes first year teachers can get bogged down with paper work.

“But not her. And she interacts so well with the students. I get to watch her teach every day and see how the kids feed off her energy. She has a neat way to deal with young people.”

Peeples said she watched Lindahl grow up. “Now we team teach one class and it’s so rewarding seeing your past student do so well.”

Ken and Patty Lindahl are great support for their daughter, with Mom helping her with how she ran her classes and Dad helping her become acquainted with the theatre itself.

“Now that I’m retired, I’m able to do things I wanted to do there but didn’t have time when I was teaching like working on the lights, the sound system and now transferring the ins and outs of the theatre itself to Laura,” Ken Lindahl said.

He and Patty also take pride in knowing that their careers influenced all three of their children. Their son Matthew works in art direction and has worked with movies The Help and 42. Currently he is doing art direction for the TV show Nashville and is with No Shame Theatre, an improvisational troupe in Nashville.

Ken Lindahl says that theatre is not just about being an actor or a director.

Laura is doing a great job teaching and showing her students that they can apply what they learn in theatre in any career,” he said.

“She is a great fit for Brookwood and Brookwood is a great fit for her.”