Performing Newbies Take Center Stage

by Pete Janny, Sports Editor

Everyone acclimates to college differently. Some try to get ahead in the classroom, while others make every effort to get involved in as many extracurriculars as possible. Then, there are those who find a specific activity that enriches their college career. For some, assuming a theater role has been formative in their social lives while at Manhattan College.

Sophomore Anna Jerrems joined the MC Players during the first semester of her freshman year. Jerrems came to college with no previous on-stage experience, but soon proved to have a natural talent for it. Ever since appearing in her first show Murder Mystery as a freshman, Jerrems has loved every second of her experience with Players.

“I knew it was something I always wanted to try, and with the encouragement of my friends, I joined the club,” Jerrems said. “The first show I was a part of was the Murder Mystery, and ever since then I’ve been hooked.”

Freshman Ben Gilbert is another student who has benefitted from the theater scene at the College. Gilbert’s calling came in improv after watching his first Scatterbomb show this past semester. Soon thereafter, he joined Scattterbomb and as a result has found a group of friends that have helped his social transition to college.

“Joining Scatterbomb greatly impacted my social transition to college, especially because I joined in the first month of my freshman year,” Gilbert said. “Joining Scatterbomb immediately gave me a group of friends that I could hang out with and be a part of, and from becoming a part of and friends with everyone on Scatterbomb I’ve met other people and other friends which I might not have ever met otherwise.”

Similar to Gilbert, a role in theater was an important step to take in building a network of friends at college. Without it, she may not have the friends she has today.

“Joining Players my freshmen year introduced me to so many people and gave me such incredible friendships that I wouldn’t have made had I not joined,” Jerrems said. “I’m endlessly grateful for the experiences I’ve had and for the best friends I’ve made through theater.”

Anna Jerrems performed in her first Players production, Murder Mystery: A Family Reunion to Die For, the first semester of her freshman year. PAUL FUCAO / THE QUADRANGLE

Not everything about the theater lifestyle is easy. In order to get the most of the experience, it takes a willingness to go out of your comfort zone to give the audience a taste of your personality. This desire to entertain does bring some pressure, but nothing that Jerrems and Gilbert can’t handle.

“I get pre-show jitters for sure, although as soon as I go on stage the nerves go away and I’m focused on the scene and start having fun,” Jerrems said. “Being a part of Players has made me embrace my outgoing personality and has encouraged me to forget the fear of being judged.”

For Gilbert, those nerves have calmed with experience.

“I almost always get nervous before going out on stage but knowing that everyone’s got each other’s back makes it less stressful,” Gilbert said. “The more I do it the less nervous I get before a show, I was way more nervous before my first show than the last one we did.”

College is challenging enough just from the academic side of things. Fortunately for both Gerrems and Gilbert, their respective commitments have not burdened them academically.

“It’s not terribly difficult to balance school work and rehearsals because all of the student directors figure out the best possible scheduling for their cast,” Jerrems said. “Having student directors is fortunate because they understand the hectic and chaotic life of college.”

The nature of improv makes it so that there’s not a whole lot of preparations required for each Scatterbomb show. As a result, Gilbert has balanced his school work with scatterbomb just fine.

“Balancing Scatterbomb and academic responsibilities hasn’t really been too difficult, we try to make practices fit the schedule of everyone involved and even if you can’t make it to one or two practices it isn’t much of an issue,” Gilbert said. “Scatterbomb is completely improvised, nothing that you see on the stage is planned or thought about beforehand other than which forms we are going to do.”

When reflecting on their experiences, Jerrems, nor Gilbert, have any regrets. Both are thankful for the stability these endeavors have brought to their social lives.

“Being a part of Players has done nothing other than added to my overall college experience,” Jerrems said. “It’s definitely worth it because I’ve grown as an actor and as a person.”

I think my college experience would be way less enjoyable without having joined Scatterbomb,” Gilbert said. “I likely wouldn’t have made the friends that I have, met the people that I’ve met, or had most of the social experiences I’ve had.”