How does one explain what acting is? Some might think it’s imitation. Others might say it’s about getting a certain message or emotion across, but actors like Erin Devereux ’17 know it is so much more than that.
Erin did not grow up loving the stage. Instead, the social aspect of the theater community drew her in. In first grade, musical theater became a way for Erin to do something with her friends that did not involve a ball or cold weather. As she stepped into her first ensemble role, she realized she loved being in the lights.
In middle school, her love was fueled by the attention that came with over the top costumes and lines. However, as she started to grow and be assigned real roles, she began to see classmates like Madison Dillard ’17 emit raw talent and passion into their parts.
In an interview, Erin mentioned that, while she did not have any celebrity inspirations, seeing the way Madison held herself in rehearsals inspired her to take acting more seriously. In addition, mentors like Mike Cimino pushed her to take acting more seriously so that she could get more out of it. To help her grow, he let her into the Advance Acting class at Seattle Academy in her sophomore year (a huge honor.)
As she matured as an actor, she cared less about the performance and more about her roles. She found that what she truly loved about theater was being able to simultaneously produce an emotional reaction in herself and others.
Among her favorite roles was Helen in “Once in a Lifetime.” The show opened spring of 2016 at Seattle Academy and was directed by Mike Cimino. In this role, Erin felt herself rise to be more confident, powerful, and alive in order to portray the character. In the play, Helen helps the main characters (Jerry, George, and May) to start a business in Hollywood, but is quick to jump out of the business when it starts to fail.
While the audience loved her exaggerated accent and larger than life presence, they also were able to relate her character to people in the real world who only care about their friends when their friends are successful. Yet Erin felt a connection to Helen off stage, and said that playing that role made her feel more comfortable being as confident and powerful as Helen in her real life.
According to Erin, to act is to live “truthfully under imaginary circumstances while being emotionally available to whatever may come your way.” Theater can be a way to create an intriguing narrative in order to get people to discuss and think about important controversies.
Without the stage, the actors could not create the environment needed to have dialogue about the scenarios in plays. In Erin’s opinion, a successful play does not let you leave feeling like everything has been resolved because then the play ends at the door. If the play ends at the door, how can it continue to change a person? Acting is a medium to carry thoughtful discussions.