I came from a high school with a lot of amazing students. Among them were some extremely talented artists who, in my opinion, were ahead of their time. Many of these artists were actors from our theater department, a department I called home and which encouraged my passion for acting. However, I also found myself pulling away from its competitive nature. I’ve never been a competitive person, and have never cared to only audition for principal roles or pursued a show just to say I was a part of it. I’m also a person who likes to learn from other people, grow, and at some point be in a position to teach or mentor others. I felt there wasn’t much space for me or many others to do that, and I knew it wasn’t quite the place for me. I’ll admit that one of the main reasons I didn’t think I would major in theater or be involved in the department in any way when I arrived at Conn was because of my assumption that all theater departments are competitive or unwelcoming. I was worried that I wouldn’t have a shot at being in a show and that those active in the department wouldn’t concern themselves with encouraging or recruiting others to join the department.
Luckily, I was dead wrong.
About a month into my first semester at Conn, I saw posters hanging around campus advertising auditions for the second show of the year, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night or What You Will.” At the time, I was still set on majoring in behavioral neuroscience and was enrolled in three science courses and a philosophy course, so I didn’t want any more of my time taken up. I continued to see these posters and each time came up with a new reason to convince myself why I shouldn’t audition. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun I have on stage, and how I love bonding with people and memorizing lines and getting into costume, which was all the convincing I needed. The next week, I hesitantly walked to Palmer Auditorium to audition for my first show during my first semester and was enthusiastically greeted by upper-class students who seemed genuinely excited to see the faces of first-years eager to join the department. The warm welcome made me feel more like I was a family member and like others wanted me around. As for how the auditions went, I was cast as Orsino, which was truly one of the greatest experiences ever working on a show.
I became very familiar with the theater department faculty, staff, students, and classes throughout the production. And they came to know me. Eventually, an advisor told me during a meeting that I didn’t appear to be enjoying my science courses as much as my theater courses. About a week after that discussion, it occurred to me that it was important to me that I major in something that I truly loved. She pointed out my love for theater before I could myself. Since then, I’ve been cast in a department production each semester at Conn. I doubt I would’ve had the confidence to keep auditioning had it not been for the students and faculty who have encouraged and supported me through this experience.