Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SEMINAR - Star-Struck

SEMINAR cast member Will Hightower (playing Martin) guest blog posts, reflecting on the progression of his theatre career from studying in college to joining the Actors Theatre cast with some of his favorite actors and actresses.

Imagine growing up with a passion for football, admiring the heroes on and off the field for years, and with each passing year renewing your love for the game. Next, imagine playing alongside living legends from your hometown.

That’s what it feels like to play Martin in SEMINAR alongside Kerry McCue, Kim Richard, Andy Cahoon and David Barker. 

Top it off with my theatre idol Ron May directing and that’s game folks!

How did they achieve this status in my eyes (and yours too, I hope)? Let me explain.

The first Actors Theatre show I attended was THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN OF JENNY CHOW, directed by Matthew Wiener in 2006, because my Phoenix College theatre professor Gerald Burgess performed in the remarkable cast. It was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, but that level of skill and status of Actors Theatre at that time felt like an unrealistic dream.

In 2007, I started my second year of college and became jaded with the curriculum of plays written by dead, white men. I started to wonder if I should have taken the full-ride scholarship to ASU for computer science instead of pursuing this now fading passion for theatre. Not exactly “the best years of my life” as sold to me in high school.

Eventually, the theatre club on campus decided we should see a play outside of little college world, but how? In a pre-Facebook society, we didn’t know where to get suggestions or how to discover new experiences. Luckily, thanks to something called a “Newspaper” with a review for a little known play titled, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” we saw the production by Stray Cat Theatre. After watching it with the lovely Kim Richard as CB’s Sister, I realized why I gave up computer science’s banal cubicle farm. This kind of theatre I wanted to perform and stories I wanted to tell!

In 2008, I transferred to ASU where I met David Barker—an intense and intimidating acting professor. I had limited experience with David until I saw his “Dodging Bullets” performance in 2009. In awe of his ability and accomplishments, I signed up for his movement class and his professional development class for the following semester. It ended up becoming an earth-shattering experience, causing more soul searching and dwelling on life choices. Ultimately, I learned from the best to accept criticism and gained awareness about my acting body as tools for my career.

In 2009, I returned as an audience member to Actors Theatre to watch Kerry McCue in RABBIT HOLE and then I saw Columbinus, directed by Ron May, at Stray Cat Theatre. Two devastatingly dramatic performances that, again, reminded my angst-y-college self that stories worth telling exist! I still believe Columbinus is one of my favorite theatre experiences to this day.

Finally, this year I saw Equivocation with Andy Cahoon acting and David Barker directing at Southwest Shakespeare Theatre Company. While I am not extremely well-versed in Shakespeare, I found the production powerful and riveting.

I also saw Andy in Childsplay’s Robin Hood, but this was something else. The play was so good it made me angry! I continue to try figuring out why. (I might have a problem.)

And now I have the privilege to perform and play with all of these amazing artists who affected me in unknowable ways. Every day at rehearsal I remember what a gift I have to feel so star-struck. 

- Will Hightower

Purchase tickets to see Will Hightower on stage as Martin in SEMINAR - running October 24th through November 9th, 2014. 

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1 comment:

david barker said...

Thanks Will! Having a blast in this show and loving all of our high-tension exchanges. It's a thrill.