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Pockets of Love: The Theatre Department

Aquinas has provided me with an incredible community here. I found so many lovely pockets, but this weekend I was able to revel in my Aquinas theatre community pocket.

I first found a home at Aquinas through the kindness of five ladies. They swept up a clumsy, awkward first-year and plopped her down in the middle of a large, loud, loving community and said, “Here you go, you belong now.” It was incredible and frightening and such a blessing. On Sunday, October 11th, the 19th Annual Grand Awards was held- a ceremony recognizing community and local theatre in Grand Rapids that doubles as a scholarship fundraiser. It was my third year attending, and the first year I was recognized- I had been in my third play ever, and was the lead in “The Melancholy Play” by Sarah Ruhl, under the direction of Randy Wyatt.

Randy, Associate Professor of Theatre and Director of the AQ Theatre Program, took a chance on a sophomore who had only been in two shows ever and had her fourth audition auditioning for this show. Randy gave me a chance with a play that fed my very soul. I played an exaggerated version of myself, in a very different world; it was exhausting and draining and difficult and so worth it. Easily my favorite role forever. I learned so much about myself and gained so much from the process. I was shocked to find out the Grand Awards Nomination Committee put me up for a nomination for such a strange show. But I was nominated along with three other incredible actresses from Aquinas. AQ held all four slots for Lead Actress in a College Production, and I got to stand up on stage with two of those girls, accepting the award for the fourth actress. It was incredible and overwhelming to stand on that stage and recognize such an incredible woman, with two other incredible women.

As I write this, I get chills. Each of those three women have had a profound impact on not only my acting career, but my growth as a person. Sarah, nominated for her role in “I Hate Hamlet” has been a firecracker who has provided such warmth and acceptance of rebellion while teaching me the importance of laying it on the line. Kendra, nominated for her role in “Up” has been an inspiration as she continues to get a 4.0 GPA in college with a baby and taught me that putting your soul on stage is always worth it. And Taylor, awarded for her role in “Shout! The Mod Musical” who was one of the five who picked me up. She taught me the importance of red lipstick, pride in your past, and the overwhelming power of the theatre.

As the Grand Awards continued the rest of the night, time and time again the we laughed and danced and shouted and supported each other. I am always astounded by the support and love found here at Aquinas, but the love and support found in the Aquinas theatre community always blows me away. We have found ourselves in love with a competitive industry, and everyone supports, pulls up, and loves each other. We learn, we teach, we learn some more, and we always walk away better for it. I have gained so much as a person from this pocket at Aquinas, and I am so excited to continue to be a part of it, to continue to revel in it, and to continue to pull others into this lovely, lovely world of self-love, self-confidence, the Arts, and of Community.

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