I am fairly certain that I got into Georgetown because of my experience as an actor.
When I sat down with my school guidance counselor to go over the details of my application to Georgetown, I vividly recall his eyebrows arching as he read over the details of my work in theater. By that point, I had acted or helped out behind the scenes in nearly 50 shows. “Oh, that’s good,” he said. “Colleges like it when you stay really dedicated to something like that.” I took his words under advisement and decided to focus a good portion of my Georgetown application on the role of theater and acting in my life.
I was surprised to sit down at my computer and begin writing with ease about the impact theater had on me. Never before had I given the topic much thought, but I quickly realized the lessons that all my work onstage and behind the scenes had taught me, from the individual challenge of creating believable and memorable characters to the communal aspects of acting as part of an ensemble.
Up to that day, acting had just been a fun, lightweight activity that brought me personal gratification. But suddenly, upon writing that essay, my participation in the arts took on a whole new meaning.
Thus, it might be surprising to learn that even with my newfound appreciation for its role in my life, theater fell by the wayside when I started as a freshman at Georgetown in fall 2012. My mind turned to other clubs and opportunities as I left the life of an actor behind.
Georgetown was an opportunity to reinvent myself and to seek out more professional activities that could possibly be my ticket to a prize internship or — one day in the not-so-distant future — my dream job. It seemed like the time for frivolous activities had passed; it was now time for me to focus on more serious pursuits.
Like Gob Bluth on “Arrested Development,” however, I was eventually forced to admit to myself, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” My moment of realization came when the Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society sent out a mass email announcing its 2013-2014 season.
Two of the group’s shows caught my eye: Woody Allen’s 1960s comedy “Don’t Drink the Water” and the classic musical “She Loves Me.” Sitting at my computer, I felt the dim light of the theatrical flame that had once burned so brightly inside me grow: I realized that I wanted to act again.
I can now happily state that I returned to the stage in both “Don’t Drink the Water” and “She Loves Me” with Mask and Bauble. But my participation in these two shows did much more than just help me flex my atrophied acting, singing and dancing muscles: My eyes were fully opened to the creativity and professionalism of the Georgetown arts community.
Over the past year, I have come to know and befriend stage technicians who are also actors, musicians who double as playwrights and producers who can sing and dance with the best. In the middle of it all, I can’t help but feel that I, as an actor who can barely find the right end of a drill when building sets for a show, am more than a little out of my league. But such is the beauty of the Georgetown arts community that no one is meant to feel out of place or inferior because he or she may lack a skill set others have worked for years to cultivate.
As the campus celebrated its first arts week this year, I was thrilled to see so many close friends and familiar faces take to Red Square in an attempt to define “creativity.” To me, our creativity is dependent on our strength as a community. We as an arts community truly make something incredible when we combine our talents; I think of the beautiful harmony of our a cappella groups, the fluid movements of our dance companies and the dedication of the ensembles of actors I have had the privilege to work with this year.
Moreover, I think of the interplay among these different groups and how, in many ways, the arts culture at Georgetown creates its own unique dialogue among the student body. We both challenge and support each other in our work, from stage technicians to painters to musicians. Our work together in creating this artistic conversation on campus more than validates my renewed dedication to the arts and, specifically, to the arts at Georgetown.
For those with artistic aspirations who would sit on the sidelines at Georgetown as I so foolishly did for my freshman year, I encourage you to let your creativity shine here on the Hilltop. We can’t wait to add your voice and talents to the conversation.
MATTHEW GRISIER is a sophomore in the College. He is a former deputy opinion editor of The Hoya.