A window inside life at Augustana College

On the Benefits of Theater

From Katrina: the K-Word. Photo credit: Cam Best Photography

I’ve been doing theater since eighth grade. I spent most of my high school years hidden away in our auditorium rehearsing, building sets, stage managing, assisting the directors or some combination of the two. In the winter, I used to go weeks without seeing the sun–reaching school before the sun rose and leaving after it had set.

In college, I decided to take a bit of a break.

And then last term happened.

I was in ETU’s Winter Mashup with Heywire (Augustana’s only improv group). I was cast in Katrina: The K-Word, an entirely student-driven production led by the members of the Play Production class. I performed in Alpha Psi’s annual production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. And I was part of a group of six wonderful women who performed Any One of Us, a piece born from Ensler’s creative writing workshops with women in prisons, at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, amid the work of photographer Richard Ross.

Why, you might ask, did I decide to do four performances in five weeks when I was already working on two Senior Inquiries? Honestly, it just sort of happened. The common denominator between all these performances  is social justice. Katrina taught me a lot about what came before and after Hurricane Katrina. We often forget that, long after the cameras have left, people still have to rebuild their lives. The Vagina Monologues, as always, made me think about women’s empowerment. And Any One of Us is a searingly honest piece about what it’s like to be an incarcerated woman and, especially important, what leads to becoming one. ETU always has a few social justice-themed pieces among the mix. I’m very happy that the Augustana community is starting to feel strongly about what’s happening in the nation and the world (the protest in support of Ferguson, the installation in the library about the kidnapped Mexican students and more). I wanted to be a part of that.

But okay, my reasons for having to meet any invitation to hang out with “I have rehearsal,” for sleepless nights and homework begun after 10, for walking across campus in the freezing cold twice every evening instead of staying in my warm house, weren’t entirely noble. I also realized last term that theater of this quality may not be in my life for much longer. Sure, there are community theaters and all kinds of ways to stay involved after I graduate. But being able to work and perform with people who have Masters degrees and PhDs in this stuff, and people who are working their way towards Masters and PhDs, is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

I’m in ETU again and am fortunate enough to have been cast in the spring production of As You Like It. And I’m thinking about pursuing a career in dramaturgy after grad school. All this happened in the last few weeks. And I couldn’t be happier.


2 Responses to “On the Benefits of Theater”

  1. Ruki! You are an amazing theatre artist (because just calling you an actor would simply not be enough)! I am so glad to have been able to work with you and am always ecstatic to receive your hugs. A beautiful post that reflects my feelings exactly. 🙂


  2. So many senior feelings! I’m so glad you’ve been a part of my theater experience at Augie!

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