The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

Senior reflects on experience in theater department

Chris Bell
Students in this year’s spring musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” feed their passion for performing every time they enter the stage.

I stroll out onto the stage, followed by a spotlight and driven by applause, and as I take a bow the outside world seems to think I am basking in my own glory. However, that cannot be further from the truth. From the outside it may look like theater kids do it for the glory and draw of having a lead and getting that final bow, but for the insiders who are actually involved and care about theater, it is fueled by passion not for glory, but for performing.

Luke Guidinger has been involved in the theater department since his junior high, and he has now worked his way up to getting a lead by playing Mr. Grayden in the spring musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” “It’s hard to understand what drives me but plainly put it is my passion because I love becoming another person, and living in another person’s world,” he said.

Only in theater can you be an old woman, Southern belle, prostitute, cheerleader, actor gone villain, part of a royal court, passenger on a ship, and waitress all in a span of four years. Many start to wonder how theater kids can find themselves while being someone else for four straight years. “You are showing people what human nature is, because you study human nature when you are involved in theater,” said Guidinger.

Actors tell the story of the unnoticed, the misfits, the underdog, and we are able to show a range of emotions that every person deals with on some level making theater the most relatable form of reality and truth in the world. However, with that actors must express a certain level of vulnerability. “It’s a way of allowing yourself to transform. I mean, I didn’t use to take the risk and be vulnerable, and it turned out awful. However, when I did the audience not only became engaged, but I became engaged in the character,” said Junior, Danny Faber.

I began to allow my vulnerability onstage my sophomore year in a Bluewater Theater Company Production of “Cinderella.” After a simple audition where I sang a few bars, I soon had myself a called back for Cinderella, the Stepmother, the Queen, and both stepsisters. Even though I was only an understudy, it was there that I was given the confidence of performing, which then allowed me to let go of that vulnerability both onstage and off.

Even Junior Danny Faber, who now has the male lead in the spring musical, dealt with this idea of vulnerability when he first was introduced to theater. “I used to have so much stagefright… but I took that risky step to make myself vulnerable, and I ended up falling in love with it,” said Faber.

But often times, becoming a character is much more than being vulnerable; it is about the character work that the actors must do offstage. Every night, even after 6 hour rehearsals, I still review my lines, brainstorm new ideas, and work on characterization all the way up through even the shows. “I think it is really important to know your character, if you don’t look back at who your character is before you start playing them, then you will have no idea what your character is doing,” said Faber.

For me, this spring I faced the challenge of how to portray the character of Mrs. Meers. A failed actress gone convict, Mrs. Meers attempts to hide her identity in a stereotypical Chinese accent, but she still has scenes where the real and very white Mrs. Meers comes out. The challenge of playing a character within a character soon hit me in full force. I searched for an aspect of her I could relate to, and I found it in the idea of rejection. Just like I had been cut from shows, Mrs. Meers got cut from the chorus, which is what made her transform the world around her into a stage by pretending to be someone else, providing proof that even the craziest of characters have some humanity in them.

These ideas didn’t come immediately, but the fact that I struggled with it just makes the reward of final bows on opening weekend even better. Luke experienced this with his singing voice. Originally Luke was considered a baritone, but after realizing that the majority of Broadway male leads are tenors, began to work at his voice. After hours of conditioning, this baritone was finally able to be considered a tenor. “Struggling is so important because it makes you cherish success. No matter how you struggle, whether you struggle emotionally or physically, when you lose touch with your humility, you lose touch with yourself as an actor,” Guidinger said.

However, playing a character often provides an outlet for young actors. Personally, when I’ve had a rough day, I saunter out to the garage. Although it is the dirtiest, dustiest, and most cobweb filled portion of the house, it provides me with my own “actors studio.” It has the ability to transform into any space that I want it to be because it is such a raw space. It’s the only place where I can live my feelings vicariously through these characters. However this isn’t just me being crazy, because most people involved in musical theater have this space. “Most of the time it’s my bathroom, because it gives me the ability to shut myself off from the rest of the world, and that isolation gives me the ability to experiment as an artist,” said Faber.

Theater gives people what they are willing to take from it. That being said, I guarantee that there are some who are in theater for different reasons. Some probably are in it just for the spotlight or to get their own personal Broadway dreams to come true. However, I don’t think that those people truly understand the concept of acting. Acting is a form of studying human nature and experiencing it in front of an audience. This concept alone is what will drive my final bows at BSM or wherever else they may take me.

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    Betsy PreusMay 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

    BSM Theater has been incredibly important to my family. Kaia and Max took me to the performance for Mother’s Day and we loved it! All of the actors were wonderful and you were an amazing Mrs. Meers! Thanks for a delightful afternoon!

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The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN
Senior reflects on experience in theater department