Theater and its Impact on the Human Experience
Benjamin J. Grady, Editor in Chief
The student life here at Oglethorpe provides students with a variety of events to look forward to. The excitement that comes with a new production being put on for the school is what students of all years, faculty members, and esteemed guests in the community all look forward to. The theater program’s presentation of the Shakespeare production, ‘The Tempest’, is an example of a stage play that is latest buzz here on campus. However, the unfamiliarity with theater productions and not knowing what to expect is an important part that isn’t focused on as much. Moreover, not everyone understands theater’s impact on the student life.
Theater is not just about putting on an act for people to watch; it’s about showing people the importance of the human experience. “I think it’s what makes learning valuable,” said Marc Collins. A fourth-year theater student here at Oglethorpe, being involved in almost every production provided Collins insight on how the story told on stage is similar to stories learned in the class. “A lot of the productions that we do intersect with the classes on campus and help students bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” he said.
“I think another important thing about the theater that we are starting to experience on campus is that it’s starting to reflect our student population,” said Jariyah Williams, a third-year theater student. WIllaims not only believed in the importance of the story’s connection to stories learned in class, but the importance of the representation that the productions bring as well. “Stories that need to be told for our POC [people of color] people are starting to happen because of our students and our faculty,” she said.
Theater is both vital for understanding the importance of the human experience, and it helps actors get to know the people who they work together with. When asked what his favorite part about a theater production is, Baker Rouseau, a second-year theater student, said, “The learning process and getting to bond with your cast. Each cast has a different feel to it and everyone brings something new to the project.” Through this interaction, you learn more about people through soft skills, networking, and most importantly establishing bonds that last when university life ends. “You’re also seeing yourself in a system with other people, as well as how y’all grow and develop together, and learn!” Rouseau said. “I think that’s a really beautiful experience.”
“My favorite part is watching it all come to life,” said Morgan Frazier, a third-year student. Although the bonds formed during the experience strengthen the trust in each cast member, Frazier explains that what the audience sees is the finished product on stage. The cooperation is what sets the stage for a memorable show, and it is up to everyone to play their part with heart. “It takes a lot of imagination on all ends; the actors are becoming one with their character and making it their own, and the directors, the lighting designers, and people building the set all have to have some type of imagination to be able to see things differently,” Frazier said. “[As a result,] the audience themselves can then enjoy the story being put on.”
So what advice can be given on how to approach the show? “Keep an open mind, y’all!” Williams said. “It’s the actors job to perform and portray all stories, not just the easy ones… that’s how we make a change and touch people.” “Everything is inspired by something,” Collins said. “What I advise you, as an audience member coming in to watch this show, [is to] follow that magic [in the show] and you can look for the meaning behind it.” Not only can open-mindedness and finding the meaning behind a show change your perspective, but it can change your outlook for any new experience you venture through. “You might not always agree with what’s being presented on stage,” Frazier said, [but] iIt’s okay to have a difference in opinion to what’s being shown to you.” “You’re telling something that has meaning to somebody out there,” Rouseau said. “I do think that there is always something that you can pick up, looking at the emotion the actors portray and the message that the director was trying to get across.” Whether it is your first time seeing the production this Fall or another of many shows that you are attending, having an open-mind is significant to the overall theater experience. Taking the time to understand and appreciate the work that goes into a production is what makes and continues to make theater a fundamental part of student life here on campus.
For information on show times, visit The Source to learn more!