by Rogin Farrer Scenic Design/Construction Apprentice
(This blog post is part of a continued series created by our apprentices about how and why they fell in love with the theatre)
I did my first play when I was 14 and a freshman in high school. The summer before, I hesitated between going out for the football team and auditioning for the fall play, The Laramie Project. I went to the first practice and brought home all the gear and pads, but my parents dissuaded me from the gridiron and pushed me towards the stage. At that age I had, well, delicate sensibilities. They had good instincts. I would have been pummeled.
The Laramie Project isn’t an easy show on the actors. It’s usually staged with the performers sitting in the background, stepping forward when they assume one of the characters. When I reminisce with my friends about that show, they often say how exhausting it was to be on stage all the time. But when I look back, I only remember just how riveted I was to be there.
On one hand, I had finally found my group. During the awkward years of middle school, I wasn’t popular. But the world of theater, I’ve discovered, is welcoming to everyone. I may have been nervous at the outset, but the older students took me under their wing. When I am part of the collaborative process of putting on a show, I feel a sense of community and noble purpose. I couldn’t help but love every moment.
Theater also gave me a voice. I’ve found no experience comparable to standing in front of an audience, reveling in the vulnerability and adrenaline of performance. The experience is both communal and solitary, spiritual and material. Acting in The Laramie Project was especially moving for me. I remember the script calling for me to cry, and all through the rehearsal process I could never get there. It wasn’t until opening night, my first time performing in front of an audience, that I felt tears on my cheek. Looking out into the audience, I saw that there were a few who also had tears in their eyes. I realized then the power of storytelling through performance, and the power I had to influence people in a positive way. I haven’t stopped making theater since.
Nowadays, I’m not on stage so much, but I’ve found a better way, for me, to be part of the storytelling process. My education at college opened my eyes to the other aspects of production. At Vassar, I not only acted—I also did sound, lighting, and scenic design, directed, production managed, worked in the scene shop as a carpenter, and many other jobs off stage. I continue to enjoy acting, but I’ve found more fulfillment through design and carpentry.
After exploring theater with such diversity the last four years, I’m excited to come to Gloucester Stage to continue growing as an artist and craftsman. And, equally important to me, I look forward to continuing in my alma mater’s tradition of ensemble-based theater with the Collaborative. Here’s to a new adventure!
*GSC Blog posts are the select opinions of individual employees and may not necessarily reflect the views of Gloucester Stage as a whole.