Former University Student Union Employee Finds His “Full-Circle” Moment as a Matador

January 17, 2023

Hans Weichhart

Photography by Briana Walden

By: Riley Sullivan 

NORTHRIDGE—Hans Weichhart, a University Student Union (USU) employee from 2003-2007, has found his “full-circle” moment with the university, joining the team that knows how to put on a show.

As the Director of Production for The Soraya, the state-of-the-art performing arts facility on campus, Weichhart is responsible for every aspect of what happens in the back of the house; the area only accessed by those working on the production. Rather than try to have his hand in every part of the magic, he loosens the reins and allows his staff to show off their expertise.

“I lead a team of technical theatre professionals. I’m not an expert in audio. I’m not an expert in lighting. My job is to surround myself with experts who know all of those skills,” Weichhart said.

Weichhart began his artistic career in Oakland, California as the role of Papa Bear in his first-grade production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While he was the shortest kid in the class, he said his presence on stage is what landed him the big role.

From there, he continued performing on the stage and eventually found himself attending California State University, Sacramento, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theater with an emphasis in acting and stage management. While in college, he worked for the University Student Union, started a multicultural fraternity, was an orientation leader, and even held the role of the university’s mascot, Herky the Hornet.

His introduction to CSUN came in 2003, shortly after graduation.

“When I graduated and moved to LA, I was like ‘I don’t want to be a starving actor.’ But there’s something else that I love to do in life and that’s working on a college campus,” Weichhart said.

He typed and hand-signed a letter to the office of Dr. Jolene Koester, then president of CSUN. This connection helped Weichhart land a role as the Operations Coordinator for the USU and began a four-year stint on campus.

In 2007, Weichhart departed from CSUN and landed at one of the world’s most influential entertainment companies – Disney.

Hans Weichhart

Photography by Briana Walden

There, Weichhart was hand-selected to help develop a training program for the relaunch of the Disney California Adventure Park, following its major redesign and expansion. Fans believed that the park lacked a connection to Disney, and Weichhart was tasked with developing a retraining program that every employee or “cast member” had to complete.

“[There are] like 23,000 cast members total at Disneyland Resort; almost every single one of them went through this program,” said Weichhart, “Their passion and their connection to that park really started with that training program.”

Creating a program of that magnitude at California Adventure is a personal achievement of which Weichhart said he is most proud.

After three years, Weichhart said he wanted to retire with the organization; that was his plan.

That plan changed in 2010 after he received a phone call that both his brother and father had become terminally ill with cancer. As their health declined, Weichhart made the tough decision to quit his job at Disney and move back to Northern California to help take care of his family.

Three months after he returned to the Bay Area, his brother passed away and a year later, so did his father.

“I think the hardest thing for me has been, like handling those personal life things that affect what we do, where we go, and who we are,” said Weichhart, “We often try to write the story of our life; you try to turn the page when you’re ready to turn the page. So often those pages get turned for us.”

Prior to his debut as the Director of Production for the Soraya, Weichhart worked for an international nonprofit, the International Thespian Society, which acted as an honor society for K–12 theater students and supported K–12 theater teachers.

In his new role at The Soraya, he hopes to create a symbiotic relationship with the theater department on campus, allowing students to utilize the facility and get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology and equipment.

His recommendation for students, whether they be theater majors or studying any of the other 166 majors offered by CSUN, is to do more than study while at the university.

“My biggest piece of advice for students is to be involved,” he said. “My experience as an undergraduate and a student, shaped who I am today.”

Hans Weichhart

Photography by Briana Walden