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Mills alumna showcases play at staged reading

Mills College Weekly

Her perky blonde bob, bright floral print blouse and quirky
elephant print socks reflect the many facets of her personality.
Her warm smile draws you in and makes you feel right at home.

Mills alumna, playwright, actress, and elementary school teacher
Katy Hickman returns to Mills to test out her newest play “Bright
Boy” on Mills students.

The play is set in 1995 on the Mills campus and centers around
Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense during the
Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Hickman combines her theatrical wit with her background in
government, and the result is a comical rendering of characters
that are grappling with the effects of Vietnam, with McNamara who
still, in his own way, is trying to make up for it. Hickman brought
the un-produced play to Mills to workshop through staged readings
with Mills students.

Hickman graduated from Mills in 1986 as a government major, but
has been in love with theater since junior high, when she performed
children’s and community theatre.

“I wanted to study theater in college, but my Dad wouldn’t
support it,” Hickman said.

Returning to college as a self-supporting resumer, Hickman
decided to study government because she had always been “really
interested in it,” although her connection to theater remained

“Every time there was a big [theater] production at Mills, I was
in it,” said Hickman.

After graduating from Mills, Hickman moved to Palo Alto where
she worked at a video production company and then as an office
manager for Computers for Social Responsibility. Working a day job
allowed her to pursue her passion: improvisational theater.

Starting out at a small club in Palo Alto, Hickman’s confidence
and popularity grew, leading to bigger venues in San Francisco.

“I was performing every night of the week,” Hickman said. She
wrote and performed solo pieces from the late 1980s through the
late 1990s.

Through theater, Hickman discovered another passion: teaching.
When a San Francisco elementary school was looking for volunteers
for an after-school program, Hickman saw an opportunity. She taught
kids theater, where they wrote and performed plays. Her volunteer
work eventually grew into a paying job.

“I got hooked on education and went back to school for my
teaching credential,” said Hickman.

Hickman now teaches first and second graders in Burbank CA., and
uses theater techniques in her curriculum.

“I pull them up and have them act things out, such as the good
and bad manners book. They get really excited,” said Hickman.

At the same time, Hickman was enjoying personal success with her
one-woman show, “Meteor Girl,” that she says was partly inspired by
Lily Tomlin’s one-woman show, “The Search for Intelligent Signs of
Life in the Universe.”

After being seen at the National Solo Mio festival in San
Francisco, “Meteor Girl” was produced and run at the Magic Lantern
Theatre in San Francisco.

Hickman eventually took the show to Los Angeles, where she was
introduced to her future husband, playwright and author Vince
Waldron. “We had shows running at the same theater,” Hickman

“Confessions of a Lady Killer” was Waldron’s play and he and
Hickman shared a connection through theater. They met in 1996, and
married in 1999. They have a three-and-a-half year old daughter
named Elizabeth, who Hickman said “is my joy.”

The best part of her day is “to teach them [her students], for
them to have a good time, and for us to all act together.”

“I remember what I needed and wanted from a teacher: I wanted
them to like me and for them to be larger than life,” Hickman