The end of the year marked the closing of a very long run of Peter Pan and Wendy, the show I was in during Spring Quarter of this year. This was the closing of my last show of junior year, and it has left me feeling very reflective of my experiences this year, all the things that I have learned, and facing Senior Year (whoa). At TTS only junior and senior actors (as well as 2nd and 3rd year MFA actors) can audition and perform in the many official productions. This time last year I was just thinking about how crazy it felt to finally be facing junior year, and finally be in the casting pool for the MainStage shows. There was so much uncertainty and nervousness and excitement around what it would be like to be an upperclassman, and be in a real show. Now, a year later, I have just finished my third MainStage show, and looking straight in the face of my last year of undergrad, and my last 3 shows. It is an equally exciting and nervous place to be, but for different reasons. I now have an understanding of how the process works and of the work I need to do to be successful.
Here are some things I've learned from the three shows I was in this year, and greatest memories.
Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson-on
the Fullerton Stage:
What I learned: This was my favorite show experience this year, and will always remain very special to me. A lot of this is due to the fact that it was my very first real production in college, and my first MainStage show. During this process and in exploring the role of Zonia Loomis, an 11 year old living in 1910, I learned to follow my instincts and really have fun in the work. They call it a play for a reason! This show taught me that I can have a truly safe, collaborative, fun, and wonderful experience creating a piece of theatre, when all involved truly love and care about the work in the same way.
My favorite memory: The connections I made with the entire team are so special to me. Also, in the rehearsal process we explored rhythm, singing, and dancing in a way that was improvisational and came from the heart.
In the Blood by Susan-Lori Parks- in the Healy Theatre:
What I learned: In this process I played a young homeless mother of five, struggling to beat the odds and create a better life for her family-but is ultimately destroyed by the forces around her. This role was very challenging to work on, given the size of the role and circumstances of the story. I will admit that I was very scared to work on this role. But after the process I learned that while it is okay to be scared, the only way to get the work done is to face it head on, and proceed step by step. I learned to be an advocate for myself and that I need to work on communicating my needs as an actor in the process. I learned that I can do things I didn't know I was capable of.
Greatest memory: The bond I created with some of the cast members of this show. Also, on opening and closing night, sharing with each other the ways in which we were proud of each other.
Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie - in the Merle Reskin Theatre:
What I learned: In this play I had two ensemble roles of the Neverbird and one of Captain Hook's pirates. During this process I was able to apply some of the things that I had been learning in the classroom over the last couple of years in some different ways. The Merle Reskin Theatre, located in The Loop, is the largest stage and theatre that we perform on at TTS. Such a large space and large audience demands you fill it up and send the story up and out so everyone in the audience can receive it. I got to play with my voice work to be heard in such a large space, and play with different voices for a bird, and for a pirate. I got to explore my movement work also in exploring bird-like movement, and playing a scruffy male pirate. Also, I took the acting lesson "Never let yourself get bored" into account and always switched up my point of view or actions on stage as a pirate. Because I was in the background and still serving the story, it was fun to play around with different things, just for myself.
Greatest memory: Wearing awesome costumes made by the students at TTS!
I have learned all of this in process, even more in the classroom and even more outside of the classroom. Being a part of these has taught me about acting, about life, and about myself. I look forward to many new learning experiences in the shows next year!