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HPU professor Aumer shines in her second career as actress

    By Marcie Kagawa. October 24, 2011 - 6:52 pm

“Why should I love this gentleman?” HPU psychology professor Katherine Aumer begins her monologue as the jailer’s daughter in Shakespeare’s lesser-known play, “Two Noble Kinsmen.”

“Tis odds he never will affect me. i am base, my father, the mean keeper of his prison, and he a prince. To marry him is hopeless; to be his whore is witless,” she laments, playing a 15-year-old girl hopelessly in love with a man who desires someone else.

Taking on Shakespeare’s entire repertoire of plays is an enormous task, and Aumer is proud to be a part of it as an actress in the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival, which just finished its 10th season this August. But Shakespeare isn’t all she does.

Aumer, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa native, has been involved in theater work since her high school days, though she made her start behind the scenes and eventually found her way in front of the curtains.

With years of theater experience, it was only natural for Aumer to major in theater, along with her other passion, psychology.

“Theater and psychology ask the same questions about the human heart and soul, but psychology is science-based and theater takes a more creative approach,” she said.

“They help us understand the human experience.”

After finishing her undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa, Aumer moved to Hawaii to work as a research assistant at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. That’s when she became involved in Hawaii’s theater scene, acting in productions at UH’s Kennedy Theater.

“The theater community here is small, but I got to meet lots of good people,” Aumer said.

“It’s actually quite easy to get into acting in Hawaii. It was difficult to get parts in Iowa, but it’s easier in Hawaii because there is diversity.”

In 2008, Aumer graduated with her Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and returned to Hawaii.

After seeing a poster for the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival, she auditioned and landed the part of Jessica in “The Merchant of Venice.”

Though Aumer recently became a full-time professor at HPU, she continues to stay active in Hawaii theater.

“It’s just a part of my life,” she said. “I can’t see myself not doing it. I like being able to watch the audience laugh together, cry together. Theater brings people together.”