I am a senior majoring in Economics and Legal Studies, and never did I imagine my college curriculum to include performance. Three and a half years after starting school here, I never mustered the courage to try out for a show, but I did still need to fill out a final distribution requirement in the literature and fine arts. However, since I’m in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, part of my requirements for graduation include taking classes in the literature and fine arts. I chose the class Performance and Analysis of Literature, and I discovered an interest that I otherwise would not have.
In high school, I had been curious about theater, but never had the time to get involved. When choosing the college where I’d spend the next four years, I wanted to find a place with a strong theatre program not only to see fantastic student productions, but to also take advantage of resources on campus to explore that interest for myself.
I walked into class on the first day, and we were in a “black box” sort of room, with curtains lining one of the walls and twenty chairs in the middle of the room arranged in a center-facing circle. We went around the room to introduce ourselves, our majors, and our years. Besides myself, there was another Economics major, three engineers, and two communication majors. None had been in plays before, and five of my classmates played on one of Northwestern’s nineteen varsity sports. It was so interesting to see how each of our Northwestern experiences led us to this class, where we were forced outside of our comfort zones and explore a new topic.
Our professor, Carol Simpson Stern, is an experienced performer, who also has a talent for making us novices feel welcome. Though we were no ingénues ourselves, we were able to work together to parcel out what parts of our performances worked and didn’t work. All this while keeping in mind that some of us are more prone to being in the audience than on stage.
Since the class began, we’ve performed short stories, poems, and speeches from history. I’ve seen growth in all of my classmates’ performances, let alone their confidence in public speaking. I’m happy Northwestern offered me the opportunity to finally explore an interest and gave me the instruction to improve.