Wake Forest University Theatre recently completed a production of John Cariani’s “Almost, Maine.” What made the fall performance surprising? Of the 23 roles available, 11 of them were filled by first-year students.
At some colleges and universities, opportunities to participate in major theatre productions are reserved for upper class theatre students, says John Friedenberg, director of the University Theatre. “At Wake Forest, opportunities to become involved and make significant contributions to productions are available to all students, regardless of their year in school or major course of study.”
“Getting into a show is a comforting way to make the transition to college,” says first-year student Johanna Beach. “Immediately I met great people and got connected and involved. And because we practiced almost every night, I learned time management skills quickly.”
First-year student Isabelle Curry, an assistant director for “Almost, Maine,” said she understood when she accepted the role that it would be a big responsibility with a large time commitment, but she was determined to get involved in theatre.
“I enjoyed theatre before coming to Wake Forest, so it definitely would have left a void if I hadn’t participated,” says Curry. “Everyone I have met through theatre is welcoming. I have made some close friends as well as upper class student mentors.”
Jessica Wagner, a first-year actor in the production, says the experience of being in a college play has helped her to grow both individually and peer to peer.
“The experience students gain from working on a major production in their first semester at school provides a critical foundation to their study and development as students both in and out of theatre,” Friedenberg says.
Several students in the play are recipients of the Presidential Scholarship for Distinguished Achievement. This merit-based scholarship is awarded to students admitted to Wake Forest who possess exceptional talents in art, dance, debate, music or theatre. Though Presidential Scholars are not required to pursue a major in the area of their talent, they are expected to participate actively in that activity on campus.