The networking opportunities that the WSU theatre program has afforded me have been incredibly valuable. I was just thinking to myself how lucky I am to have this list building up...
I had my first experience this year playing a specific living person, speaking text that she literally spoke herself. And then the added bonus (or pressure, depending on the day!) was that my staged interpretation of this woman was viewed by her husband in person! Meeting Kerry Max Cook and hearing him say that I portrayed a very real and very heartfelt version of his former wife, Sandra, meant the world. Especially considering his circumstances. Cultivating a personal relationship with this American hero has been an additional unexpected honor.
Twice I have performed for playwrights, but both were very different experiences. Wole Soyinka is likley the most alluring and charismatic person I've met to date. I was very nervous performing for this author because of the closed setting in which he viewed our work. A college campus presented a very intimate situation, but proved to be the perfect setting to allow us students to ask all sorts of questions. His readings, reception, and discussions were very personal, and I left the experience with Soyinka having learned many lessons regarding his text, life in Africa, current theater, and even individual discipline. Not to mention the resume credits!
Finally, performing Betsheb in The Golden Age for Louis Nowra was possibly the highlight of my work at WSU. The first time I read the play was two years prior to the production, and I literally considered it an impossibility. The setting ranged from war-torn Berlin to jungles of New Zealand to asylums. Rivers and rainstorms and supernatural occurrences permeated the situations, and sicknesses ravaged the characters. From tuberculosis to epileptic seizures to autism to mental instability and obvious social handicaps, not to mention attempting to perform a brand new language...my initial feeling was that it was a miracle that the play was ever produced. And then when Terry announced that not only would WSU produce it, but invite Louis to attend, I was blown away and assumed disaster was headed our way. But nothing could have been further from the truth. Sitting in a pub with Louis until all hours of the night discussing my career and his will always be one of my fondest memories. Mr. Nowra was so accessible and open, I couldn't believe how down to earth he was. He even asked (asked!) to do an additional talk in our acting / directing II class and stage readings from his (unpublished at the time) Boyce trilogy. I fervently hope someday my career path leads me to Louis Nowra again.
I feel like one of the luckiest students in the history of the department to be able to have performed for these three great men before I turned 22. I am ecstatic to see what happens in the next 22 years!!!