POV: From the eyes of a theater student

Theater has been much more meaningful than I could have ever imagined

In my freshman year, I had the choice of choosing between ceramics or drama for an elective, and I was placed in drama. I was nervous at the idea of performing on stage in front of strangers for the first time as I had no knowledge of how to act. Now, looking back as a senior, I am happy I was given the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing community.

My first time acting outside of school was during drama club’s first murder mystery, where I played Wyleen Black, a reporter for the tabloid newspaper, investigating the affairs of the north and south gangs of Chicago in the roaring 20s. (Photo courtesy of Yenting Lin)

When I stepped through the auditorium, I was instantly amazed by the large stage and countless costumes with unique designs and attire from and before the early 1900s.

The creativity within theater pushed me to participate in my very first show, “The Music Man,” as a member of the ensemble. The show, however, was later canceled as we transitioned into online learning. While disappointing, the drama community continued with an online show. 

I continued theater through stagecraft technology, a class dedicated to teaching students about the preparations that go into backstage props, learning how productions work and the tremendous effort that goes into managing all aspects of production. Productions are oftentimes student-written and produced. 

During my junior year, I worked on designing the stage with my peers, painting props as soon as they were built and feeling the excited rush as a part of the costume crew whenever we discussed characters and the attire that best suited them. My view on character designs was heavily impacted during my time on the costume crew. The small details viewers do not pay enough attention to have such significance to the character and story, showing their progression and how they learn to slowly let themselves accept who they are or where they come from.

Later that year, I became a part of the Board Cast, one of the two groups of actors, and performed first. I landed the role of Hortense after auditioning, who is a nurse entrusted with caring for another bright and cheerful character called Ivy. Throughout the play, my character would chase Ivy around the set, sometimes being tripped by the ghosts, played by a group of actors known as the ensemble who take on background roles that help drive the story.

For my first show, rehearsals and performances were nothing short of spectacular. The nervous rush of running on stage and projecting my voice, hearing the applause of audience members and their laughter as an actor adds a special twist to their line or gesture – it was breathtaking. It pushed the cast, myself included, to enjoy the moments on stage until the very end. 

The one thing about theater I never would have thought would heavily impact me is the community. In theater, you can be yourself, with no persona or mask, and the people of drama will accept you with open arms. The family bond created in theater relies on the students’ support for each other. I cannot express enough how wonderful of an experience it is to get to know people who will love and support you unconditionally. 

Theater is like the missing puzzle piece I never thought I would find. It has not only helped me step out of my comfort zone, but it has helped me pull myself together. In theater, it may all seem as pretend, but the emotions and projection behind the makeup, costume and character are genuine and beautiful all the same.