Since my Shimer stage debut as Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream my freshman year, I've been consistently struck by the enthusiasm and talent that is the Shimer College theater program. Seriously. You can't throw a rock at this school without hitting someone who has incredible theatrical talents. Every time an audition rolls around, a random assortment of students show up for the auditions, and every single time, they blow me away with how good they are at this acting thing. I honestly don't know how to put into words how talented everyone is. Last year we collaborated with 33rd Street Productions (the IIT theater department) on Uncle Vanya.
I worked on the crew so I saw the show every night and I watched it a lot during rehearsals. Those Shimer and IIT students brought tears to my eyes with each performance. Their talent was such that even though I was so accustomed to the play, it moved me every time. The same goes for when they put on Endgame. The very first line alone was enough to give me chills. Like I said, crazy gifted actors.
And it's an earnest and dedicated bunch of people, too. Our plays are performed with a very small budget. We have little to spend on props, costumes, and set, and yet it somehow gets pulled together beautifully. Everyone brings out their best talents to make something out of nothing and it never fails to work. Whether it's building an entire (amazing looking) set out of trash bags and pvc pipes or artfully draping fabrics from the prop room over a flat, the average audience member would never be able to guess how shoestring the budget was. I know I sound like I'm gushing, but I promise you it's not unwarranted. This is some really good theater.
Just the other night we had callbacks for our Spring show, The Importance of Being Earnest. Once again, we're lucky enough to be working with IIT and the bunch of students I saw auditioning were, as per usual, suprememly gifted actors. I don't know how it happens that every time such talented people show up, but that's just how it always goes.
Now, a word on theater and the way it blends with studying the Great Books. I did a lot of acting in high school, and even more before that. I never wanted to grow up and be an actress, but it's something I've always loved to do just the same. When I came to Shimer I thought that it was a part of my life that I was going to have to put behind me temporarily, but the very opposite turned out to be the case. With the new way I've learned to approach different texts, I've also been learning how to approach characters and dialogue in a play. Academia mixes beautifully with theater. Scholarly pursuits create in you an analytical mind, and a worthy understanding of your character in a play follows smoothly from that. This point became even more clear to me when last semester I took Performance Studies, Shimer's theater elective. Discussing the play and the role I was to perform in the style of a Shimer class did wonders for the way I actually performed my character.
Long story short: Shimer does in fact do some amazing theater, and might even be a good home for you aspiring actors out there.
If you're a prospective student interested in learning more about theatre and Shimer, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be put in touch with a member of the faculty who can tell you more about theatre at Shimer.