A Journey to the Other SideMarch 7, 2011 —
The beauty of college really is that you can become anything you want. There are no restrictions as to how you spend your time or what kind of new experiences you can get yourself into. Being in my last semester of college, I thought that I had the fullest college experience I could have hoped for. However, there was always that one thing that I never got to try.
My story is the classic one about the sports kid who never had time to do anything in drama but always wondered what it was all about. I was always given the ultimatum in high school of one or the other, and I always found myself going towards my comfort zone rather than the unfamiliar. When I came to Cornell, however, theatre was a long shot that I thought just wasn’t ever going to work out in this lifetime.
Last fall semester, I decided to take an Introductory Acting class because I want to pursue a career in screenwriting when I graduate. I took the class with Michael Kaplan, who is beyond words a man who loves his craft and can instill any student with a new connection to his/her inner self. Acting, for me, became this self-expression that was limitless and freeing. It was more than just a class for me; it was more of a self-discovery that broke open the side of my self that I don’t usually let people see: vulnerability.
As the semester came to an end, Michael encouraged me to audition for the spring production of Precious Little. Not really expecting much, I rehearsed a monologue and gave it a shot. Filling out the audition sheet covering certain skills was rather intimidating because on paper I looked like the most inexperienced and inadequate actor at the audition. However, I figured that it would be good practice in front of a crowd and something new and challenging, so why not? After getting a callback, I began to not count myself out so quickly. In less than an hour of running lines with six others, my audition was over. Well, what do you know; I was cast in one of the six roles four days later.
Rehearsals began in mid-January, following a rigorous schedule of six days a week for many hours a day. My fellow cast-mates, Residential Professional TA Sarah Chalmers, Bridget Saracino ’11, Sharisse Taylor ’11, Alessandra Hirsch ’12, and Julie Reed ’12, and I dove into the beautifully dynamic and unfamiliar world of Madeline George in her story about the different types of connections people make throughout life. Myles Rowland ’11, was our fearless director who allowed us freedom to explore our characters and find our own interpretation of the play. After four and a half weeks of hard and committed work, he told us “this is your play now guys, and it has the possibility to become whatever you make of it.” It wasn’t until that moment that I truly realized how much this play meant to me because I was allowed this opportunity to reach people in a whole new way.
Opening night was indescribable. It was an adrenaline rush I had never felt before, and I felt camaraderie with my fellow cast and crew that differed from my relationships with my previous teammates. This was different than winning a game or making sure that I performed my best; it was about entering into another person’s life and as a collective effort, showing people a world of meaning, wonder, and discovery. Theatre is less clear-cut than the outcome of a game. Everyone has his or her own interpretations of how well you did or what parts didn’t fit. However, it wasn’t about how I personally performed anymore. It was about whether or not we as a group were able to depict our most meaningful message to the audience.
Theatre represents a world that is unknown and somewhat mysterious to people who haven’t been a part of it. I not only was given my last opportunity to step inside this foreign place, but I was also allowed the time to fully appreciate the work of actors and actresses. Being an outsider allowed in, I was able to see the theatre’s importance and meaningfulness in our everyday lives. Actors truly give everything for their story and don’t regret it in the least. Their passion and drive is something that I don’t get to see everyday, and it has been overwhelmingly inspiring.
My journey to the other side impacted me more than I anticipated. It served as a reminder to myself to always give it a shot. It reminded me to always find that passion for my craft and remember that it all lies in the collective message. Lastly, it reminded me to always take that chance even when I want to count myself out because at the end of the day, you never know how it’s all going to turn out.