Whenever people ask me when I started acting, I tell them it was in my church’s pageant. Three years old. I was an angel. We got the same instructions each year: “When the curtain opens, take one step forward. There will be bright lights. Smile. Don’t wave to anyone. When the lights go dark, step backward. And DON’T you DARE run around in those angel wings!”
Since then, I’ve always been performing in choirs, skits, plays, theatre camps, you name it. I even “performed” when I was studying Tae Kwon Do. (Yes, I earned my black belt when I was 12. No, I don’t think I can kill you with one hand…anymore.) I remember going to tournaments and winning gold in the forms (poomse) category again and again, and my instructor telling me how my face just sold it.
When I found out that I could actually get a degree in Acting that wasn’t just academic book-learnin’, but real-world prep, I was so excited! I got my BFA at Wright State University. Part of what has made this experience at ETC so cool, is that I’ve gotten to work with other WSU alumni like Charlie Clark and Sara Mackie. Just watching their process and product on the ETC stage made me so proud of my alma mater. October’s An Iliad starred my primary acting teacher and fellow WSU grad, Bruce Cromer. It was so enlightening to see his fears and insecurities about memorizing lines, knowing where to go, and getting the story across. And of course, when he triumphed over each and every one of them, it was a victory for everyone in the room.
During ETC’s first show of the season, Hands on a Hardbody, I was one-half of the Spot Op crew. I learned so much about myself trying to figure out how to run that spotlight. Unlike the light or sound board, the spotlight is a manual machine. I controlled how bright it was, and it only went where I pointed it. So, imagine trying to point it at a dancing actor with a bright red, shiny truck reflecting everything back at you. Or you think you have it pointed right, but then you turn it on and it’s nowhere near the actor!
For An Iliad, I was the 2nd Assistant Stage Manager. So I was in charge of wardrobe. I made sure the Muses looked beautiful (didn’t take much work, ladies!) and I made sure Bruce wasn’t walking around with holes in his costume. Easier said than done. He was jumping on tables, climbing up ladders, and dying multiple times a night. Sometimes his poor costume just couldn’t take it. So any doubts I had about my sewing and mending skills had to be put aside. That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned at ETC. Here, you learn by doing. Trial by fire. And if you’re learning by jumping right into the fray, be it tech work or making acting choices in rehearsal, there’s no room to doubt yourself, there’s only room for trust.
These experiences have all led up to my ETC debut as Petal in Sleeping Beauty this holiday season. It feels so great to be learning music and choreography in the company of such seasoned actors. And all of the interns are cast as well! But I’m the most excited about the upcoming Fairy Godmother performances where children are bussed in.
When I graduated from WSU, I worked for Columbus Children’s Theatre as a member of the touring company for two years. Kids are awesome, because they are such honest audience members. If they think it’s funny, they will laugh long and hard. But even better, if they love the show, you can tell. They’ll get quiet, but energy radiates off of them, and they believe everything on the stage. And it was such an honor and a pleasure to be so many children’s first experience with theatre. I can’t wait for that again. I got a small taste of it last Saturday when I was asked to dress as Marigold, one of the good fairies for ETC’s Character Crew at the Holiday Market. I got to take pictures with kids (and some kids-at-heart), talk about the show, and pet an alpaca! They make really odd noises and got super close to my face (the alpacas, not the kids)! If that’s not some kind of trust, I don’t know what is!