If Music Be the Food of Love
Ben Donohoe, ’22, Arts and Sciences
It’s a Sunday afternoon. I swing open the door and enter a chilly, almost eerily quiet space with black walls and rows of empty chairs, striding up onto the stage until I stand in front of two reassuringly smiling faces. I introduce myself and take a deep breath.“If music be the food of love, play on!” begins my first audition.
On the previous Friday evening, I noticed on Facebook that Vanderbilt University Theatre was holding open auditions this December weekend for its spring shows.
My initial thought was something along the lines of “What the hell, this could be kind of fun, right?” Plus, I probably won’t end up getting it, so no harm done.” So I speed memorized a monologue in a day and showed up during the last hour of auditions on Sunday to receive a call back for Sunday evening. That Thursday, I found that I had landed a role as Sebastian in VUT’s production of Twelfth Night. I was an actor!
So began a whirlwind process of learning my lines and my blocking and how to do some basic stage combat and how to do a very, very basic dance sequence without hurting myself or my fellow cast members and how to put on stage makeup (and how much crap my friends would give me for having to wear makeup) and what a “tech week” is (it can’t be described in words but exists somewhere between “incredibly awesome” and “I didn’t know it was physically possible to be this tired”).
And then it was opening night. I paced backstage. I reviewed my opening lines in my head over and over again. One of my more experienced co-stars smiled, told me that I had grown a lot and that she was proud of me, and said that I’d do great. I was ready. The lights went up, and we started the show.
I had never expected to be involved in theatre at Vanderbilt (I still yell at my friends not to call me a theatre kid). Yet, I absolutely loved the joy of discovering a character, going deep into and beyond a text to bring out emotions and motivations and an entire worldview, turning inward to see how I can relate to and emulate my character, and working with and learning from my friendly fellow actors, and performing all this on a stage.
I’m now in both a musical and another play this semester as well as a crew member on another short play. I’ve absolutely loved the community I’ve found at VUT, and I’m so glad I was brave enough to walk into that unfamiliar theatre and audition. And even though I didn’t know it at the time, acting has helped me grow as a person and find my own voice here at Vanderbilt.