By Angela Renzi
“What are you going to do with your degree?”, “Will you be able to find a real job?”, and “Do you have a back- up plan?” are all questions theatre majors are asked on a regular basis.
Majoring in theatre may seem like a risky choice and those associated with theatre even recognize that themselves. Actor and author of “Audition”, (a book meant to offer actors tips on the audition process), Michael Shurtleff, stated, “When you find out what acting is like and what the odds are, and you still persist, the proof of your own insanity is inescapable.”
Despite the insanity, there is a method to the madness. Students Mckegg Collins and Kaitlyn Ramsey, stars of the Falcon Theater Company show, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”, explained why they do what they do and what drives them individually as actors. Senior Mckegg Collins, playing the title character Vanya, stated, “It’s a mixture of many things. I do what I do because I have no idea how to do anything else, but I also love the communal aspect of theatre.”
Junior and fellow theater major, Kaitlyn Ramsey, playing the title character of Masha in the student-run production, reflected on the time consuming aspect of being a theatre major that not everyone sees or is aware of. She says, “It’s always one thing after the next. It’s either rehearsal, directing something, learning lines, or rehearsing for a class.”
Collins, a double major in film and video and theatre has been involved with the performing aspect of theatre for as long as he can physically remember. Ramsey finds reason for being a theater major in the aftermath of all of the rehearsing. Ramsey stated, “The feeling I got on opening night reminds me why I do what I do, and why I am a theater major. You can go on that stage and bring people to tears and make them laugh. It’s hearing the round of applause from a crowd at the end of a show that makes everything worth it.”
Ramsey and Collins, along with the rest of the cast of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, have been working with their student director Kelly Quinn on the show since mid-September. The show was cast the first week of September and the cast and crew have been hard at work ever since. The cast, along with Quinn, met for rehearsal every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Percival auditorium. Quinn, also a theater major, explained why she feels what she does is worth it from a director’s point of view as opposed to an actor’s, “It’s a vision that comes to fruition, and putting all of the work together and then seeing something come out of it that touches other people is a huge deal and a lot of fun.”
What both Ramsey and Collins have in common is the support of their parents, who encouraged their aspirations and both feel extremely lucky for it. In both actors’ cases their situation is the opposite of how you might picture the typical relationship between a child involved with theatre and a parent. Collins explained
“My mom would say, “Are you sure you don’t want to be an actor?”, and I would say, “Are you out of your mind?”
Similarly, Ramsey has a mother who has always supported her in her decision to major in the theatre arts. Ramsey remembered her mother’s reaction to her having second thoughts on majoring in such a risky field. “My mom said, ‘Go and do what you love because if you don’t, you will regret it someday.’”
Despite the fact that theatre plays a tremendous part in his life now, there have been times when Collins has tried to distance himself from theatre, but inevitably it always has a way of drawing him back in.
“There’s something about its spirit that brings me in, that kind of feeling and impulse always has a way of bringing me back.”
Just like any major, there are doubts within students if they are in the right field for a number of different reasons, but ultimately the feeling that the the cast mates unanimously share is that the aftermath of the all the rehearsals make everything worth it.
This is Collins’s sixth and final show at Fitchburg State, but he said the feeling for all of the shows has been the same and always will be. He says, “The second you get on that stage and do what you need to do, when you entertain the audience, it’s amazing, and there’s nothing else like it.”
Three actors received Irene Ryan acting competition nominations for their performances- Collins for his role as Vanya, Ramsey for her role of Masha and Angela Renzi for her role as Nina.