“I got started in drama in high school, but I wasn’t really sure what part of theater I wanted to go into. So when I got to Bennington, I took Stage Management, The Actor’s Instrument, and then, in my sophomore year, I took Designing for the Stage and Other Spaces. That brought me back to what I really enjoyed about theater in high school—the backstage work, the technical side—and I decided to go that route. What’s really cool about Bennington is that for every drama class you take, you also do a drama lab where you work on the set or production, and I love how everyone helps out. Working on the technical side, you also get a lot of close attention from faculty members; I meet with [design faculty member] Sue Rees a lot.
“I also came to mediation in my sophomore year. I took Art of Negotiation and Mediation and loved it. Not only did we learn about mediation, but got certified and trained as mediators. The experience itself was eye-opening and exciting, and I began to think of theater as a way to resolve conflict. Of course with creative people, there will always be butting heads and conflict, but theater can also be a tool for healing, a tool for peace-building. I’d like to pursue that idea in my final terms here.
“During that class, [mediation and costume design faculty member] Danny Michaelson was invited to see a play that was written and performed by prisoners at Sing Sing, the maximum security prison. He took 3 or 4 of us to go with him. It was kind of surreal—we had to get background checks, and get in this vehicle with bars on the windows. In the auditorium, we were among the prisoners, and at first we were scared. But then the show began, and some of the actors looked like they were my age. Even though they were in prison, in that moment it felt like they were really free, expressing themselves, and that was so cool to see, so shocking and surprising. Theater was actually helping them on the road to recovery and rehabilitation. It showed me the power of what theater can do.
“A lot of the things that have made my Bennington experience so fulfilling have to do with this community: working with other students, finding people who get excited about work with me, being on this campus, living in the housing. I’ve been a Peer Mentor for two years and I work in the Office of Student Life, so I’m in the center of what’s going on campus. I go to a lot of the events, concerts, all the plays, Rollerama. I think that’s a big part of what makes going to Bennington so much fun: so much variety and activity in such a small area.”