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75th Anniversary: Alumni Profiles

Mary Jane Pories '78

It seems a long time since I was looking at the double E’s in the carpeting in the Gezon Theater.  Anyone who graduated in 1978’s knows the E’s stood for Ervina and Edgar Boeve.  At least so goes the legend.  They both were a big part of my initiation to Calvin and I am grateful to them for that.

The years since have included a lot of performing, you’ll have to ask the audiences whether it was any good or not.  But, I did somehow get on stage.  Here are some highlights of the shows and films I did starting with the most recent:

  • The Government Inspector
  • Seven Passages
  • The Sandwich Days
  • The Gospel According To Roy
  • Epiphany 3:28 a.m. (Original one woman show)
  • The Foster's
  • Tony and Tina’s Wedding
  • The Second City (performer, writer, trainer)
  • Vocation Quest (writer, director, producer)
  • Host/Guest Calvin Forum Television Show
  • Film Fest 7 Television Show with The Second City
  • Graduation Day
  • Eh J.J. Show, Vision Television, Toronto

I wrote my first play, Lakefront Property, in the mid 1990's. Samuel French is waiting breathless for my next attempt. Me too. I've also written a variety of sketch comedy shows for the public and Fortune 500 corporations.  Although I still have not made my own fortune. In the cracks, I've directed shows at high schools, churches, The Second City Training Center, and for Fishschtick, the improv troupe associated with my company Fishladder Inc.

My favorite moments at Calvin College Theater involved the drama club and bouts of play in the costume shop. For the love of theater I have moved to new cities, snacked on stale Doritos, missed birthdays and holidays and met some of the most wonderful people I know. As a person of faith, I continue to be challenged by great stories, powerful truths, and memorable characters.  I see God in their faces and experience His creative genius in their stories.

Performing at The Second City was the greatest challenge to my faith. I was confronted with topics, characters, actors, directors, producers, audience members with very different world views than my own. Although occasionally painful, my understanding of my God grew broader and deeper from these encounters. Shortly after leaving the company, at a reunion for The Second City, a great friend and wildly talented performer was killed hours after the evening festivities.  The dreams he and I had of writing together and performing together ended that night.  His death, his yearning for fame, caused me to reflect on how best to use my talents in this highly creative and volatile vocation.

In 1999 I moved back to Grand Rapids and founded Fishladder Inc. We use the tools of improvisation to help companies improve teamwork, communication, leadership and creativity. We offer coaching, workshops, keynote presentations, and customized sketch comedy. I'm proud to say that our mission is "to use improvisation to help people navigate change by improving their ability to act intelligently and with integrity in unpredictable situations." I have the honor of working with a fabulous staff and engaging clients. Please visit us at


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Alex Agard '06
Graduation year

Calvin major

Further education
Master of Arts in Teaching

Favorite roles/crews
Won the all campus talent show with stand-up comedy

Quirky Fact
That I don’t think I’m quirky.