A.T. acting as Orsino in his first Conn show, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will.
Me as Orsino in my first Conn show, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will. (Photo by Jack Beal ’18)

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.