Section: Opinion

Renegade founder responds to Amateur Thespians

To the editors:

As a former Kenyon theater geek and Kenyon College Dance and Dramatic Club president (2005-2006), I read last week’s article about the Amateur Thespians Club “New theater group welcomes amateurs to the stage,” (Sept. 24) by Erica Rabito with great interest.

When I entered Kenyon in 2002, the fall theater department production was The Fantasticks, which provided only two female roles in a cast of fewer than 10 actors. While it was a terrific production, it left a bunch of interested students (particularly first years, as well as the majority of the disproportionately female acting community) without onstage roles to play. But defining “roles” as simply acting opportunities is very short-sighted.

Renegade Theatre (of which I was a co-creator) was founded not just to allow for exclusively first-year acting opportunities, but also opportunities for first years to direct, write, design costumes and sets and do lighting and makeup. Now in its 13th year, it is by nature passed down from the rising sophomores to a new group of talented first years, so that it can facilitate more productions that provide more opportunities for all first-year thespians, onstage and backstage. It wasn’t meant to give the same 10 first years the same 10 star spots — it was meant to create a specific environment where the students at the very beginning of college life got to play all the parts, even those normally reserved for seniors doing their thesis productions.

When so many talented students come out of the high school theater experience at the top of his or her game (winning all the biggest roles over and over again), it’s inevitably a let-down when their first college production puts them in the chorus or in the wings. But the nature of doing theater at Kenyon is mainly about becoming part of the Kenyon theater community — whether or not you’re onstage. There is no magic number of plays or theater groups that will give everyone a starring role, but there are endless ways to be involved in Kenyon theater, and there are lots of different ways to get your foot in the door before you ever step foot onstage. And if, as Sonia Calzaretta ’18 said, the Amateur Thespians Club is designed to be a place for people who “audition but aren’t good enough,” perhaps the best thing to do is get backstage and be a sponge so you can become better.

So don’t just wait for your starring role to feel included in Kenyon theater — go out for all the roles, especially the ones that make you an asset to your fellow thespians.

Jessica Carbone ’06


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