It was an early Saturday morning and we were rehearsing our piece for the Freshman One-Acts. Three freshman actors and two sophomore directors- one happy family. Yet, it was 10am, we hadn’t had coffee and honestly, we weren’t feeling it. Happens to the best of us, you just get stuck in monotony. So Erin, my co-director, and I look at each other and realize something had to be done! We gave them what was arguably the best note we said during the entire thing: Try silly. If there’s any opportunity to have more fun with it, go for it. If there’s any chance to do something different, give it a shot. If you can change anything in this play to make it more entertaining for you, do it. And honestly, the result was magical.
My one act was about two women waiting for a job interview. My part was unlike any other part I've played it was really exciting to try something new. This was my first production with the Barnstormers but it was great and I couldn't have asked for a better "FOA family." We all got very close and I can't wait to work with everyone in the future!
When I walked in to my first FOA rehearsal just a few weeks ago, I was as nervous as you could expect from a brand-new freshman, and then some. My scene had looked good on paper the night before, but undertaking it with a total stranger under the direction of two other, older total strangers seemed daunting and uncomfortable. I was struggling with homesickness and the feeling that I wasn't fitting in, and I hoped that the FOA experience would help me feel better and more connected. I'm so happy to say that I was right. I have extensive theater experience from high school, teen programs, and summer camp back in my home town. But the experience of the FOAs is something different from the theater I'm used to. The flexibility of the rehearsals and the openness of my directors to my interpretation of the scene was really comforting. I've really loved having the chance to connect with my one castmate and two directors instead of trying to make my voice heard in a larger, more structured group. And doing the scene itself has been fun and rewarding-- in the words of my own character, "I've been dying to get back on stage." All in all I am grateful for the FOA opportunity, and I feel inspired to direct a scene next year so I can give a new freshman the experience I had.
Working with Nicholas and Natalie has truly been a rewarding experience. No I won’t lie to you at the start I was exceptionally worried. Not only were Esther and I directing for the first time we would be working with people that we only meet for about 10 minutes. So to say the least we were a bit nervous. However, after some Rocky first rehearsals we were getting into the grove of things. Though I do have some regrets because I felt like we really didn’t get to that really comfortable zone until the end. But when we got there everyone was having a blast. In the end, this might just be the happiest experience I’ve had at Hopkins.
When it comes to creative endeavors, there’s always a learning curve. In preparation for The Chocolate Affair, I was asked to look into myself, in deep contemplation. I needed to find sass. Of course, I was learning from the masters of the subject, Raidizon Mercedes and Diamond Pollard, my FOA directors, true gurus of all things sassy. We spent countless hours developing M&M my hard-shelled, but soft-centered, character in the play. I poured over videos, returning the classics, Asking All Dem Questions and Ratchet Girl Anthem, to name a few. I had the sugar, I just needed some spice. Acting opposite my cast mates, David Gumino and Amy Vonder Haar, we pushed each other to our limits. Our first day, we were tasked to act out various candies. The activity soon devolved into a stark reflection on humanity. What does it mean to be a Hershey kiss? Is there a little bit of kit or kat inside all of us? Diamond brought snacks. It was truly a life-changing experience.
As we enter tech week, I look back on the highs and lows of rehearsal. It takes the form of a montage, maybe underscored with Seal’s Kiss from a Rose. I see Diamond, throwing candy, generally missing. David being weird. Amy getting intimate with some chocolate. Raidizon being Raidizon. And then there’s me, having the time of my life.
I auditioned for FOAs in 2012 on a whim. Raidizon Mercedes, the boy who lived down the hall, asked me if I was going to audition. Never would I thought, three years later, in my senior year, that I would be directing a FOA with him. Though always a supporter, the FOAs have been my only real connection (other than Raidizon, the company's president) to the barnstormers. I'm thrilled that it has come full circle with an amazing group of freshman in whom we got to cultivate their sass (Michael), their love of chocolate (Amy), and their general weirdness (David). This month has flown by and I have truly grown to love my FOAMily.
I was never a part of any theatre programs in high school; I never had time. When I first arrived at Hopkins, I wanted to expand my boundaries and thought that I could do that best by acting. I was scared, though. I had no experience… would any group even consider me? When I auditioned for the Barnstormer’s Freshman One Act plays, I immediately hoped that I would get a part in one. The auditions were SO MUCH FUN! And all of the directors made me feel so comfortable since I was new. When I learned that I obtained a role in “The Chocolate Affair,” playing the role of Mr. Goodbar, I was elated. Going to my first rehearsal, I was again nervous about what to expect. Within the first five minutes, however, I fell in love with theatre. My directors, Raidizon and Diamond, were incredible… absolutely incredible. Raidizon took me under his wing, and I learned more from him than anyone. After a couple of rehearsals, Raidizon asked me to audition for a main stage play he helped to produce. I felt so happy and encouraged; not only did my directors help me with one play but also they pushed me to go further. The Freshman One Acts were the impetus for my acting career. I hope to continue to both act and direct future plays with the Barnstormers, for everyone in this group is truly inspiring.