Theater students pursue, execute passion despite criticism

By Emily WilliamsAssistant Features Editor

Theater students at Murray State are speaking out against the stereotypes and belittling that comes with being a theater major and are pursuing their passion, nonetheless.

Brooke McCord, senior from Puryear, Tennessee, is a theater major and said it is a huge time commitment. She said this is especially true when designing and directing a play by yourself, which is what she and many other theater majors were required to do recently for their Directing II Festival, an event held as a requirement for an Advanced Directing course at Murray State.

McCord said the festival is the result of a semester-long project in which each student in the course was required to choose a 15-minute, one-act play. The student is then entirely in charge of directing the play, purchasing the royalties and casting.

She said on her end of the work for this project, she spent about 15-20 hours a week planning and preparing the play on top of maintaining her other classwork and working two jobs. She has also been a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma since she was a freshman, which, she said, is a time commitment as well.

“Your classes are the work that you do, so we’re a very busy group of students,” McCord said.

McCord said she has encountered people who put down theater as a major, or who say that it isn’t “real” or isn’t very difficult. These are the same people who assume there are no jobs out there after college for a theater major, she said.

“I think it’s really ignorant when people say things like that,” McCord said. “I haven’t even finished my degree yet, but I’ve been working as a professional director now for two and a half  years doing what I want to do. The jobs are out there and I think that’s a huge misconception that people have, that there’s no work. There’s work everywhere, you just have to look for it.”

Maddie Brasher-Evans, sophomore from Owensboro, Kentucky, said she is used to people telling her that theater is not a “real” major.

“Honestly, you sort of get used to it after awhile,” she said. “Every theater major I know has to work about 10 times harder than everyone else because we are constantly going. We are constantly in rehearsals or learning lines. People don’t realize that most nights I am so exhausted because I’ve had a full day of classes, work, rehearsal and then have homework and lines to go over.”

Brasher-Evans said you have to constantly be bettering yourself as an actor.

“It’s a lot of work and we go unnoticed a lot of the time,” she said.

Jenna Brey, sophomore from Owensboro, Kentucky and math major, said she believes both math and theater majors have their own level of and type of difficulty.

“They both require a lot of practice,” Brey said. “Theater is more practicing what you do and math is more knowing the material. They’re both very diverse.”

Brey said she respects theater majors because she can’t memorize things very quickly.

McCord said she got involved in theater when she was 10 or 11 when she starred in her school’s production of “Tom Sawyer.”

“I fell in love with everything about theater,” she said. “It’s kind of one of those things that has always been with me.”

McCord said she plans to get her Master of Fine Arts in directing after her time at Murray State and said her “dream job” is to direct children’s theater one day.

McCord said she encourages students who have considered majoring in theater but might be discouraged to talk to another theater student or the chair of the department, David Balthrop.

“We all come from different walks of life and there are so many different perspectives on this,” she said. “Theater is such an open thing. There are so many things you can do.”