Christian Keffer on the transition from educational theatre to professional theatre

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Since sixth grade I’ve been a part of educational theatre at whatever school I attended. Each school year played out under the backdrop of whatever show we would put up; my academics didn’t take a back seat but, looking back, they weren’t the most important part of my year—that was always the Fall play or Spring musical. I’m in my Junior year at Indiana Wesleyan University and, still, all I’ve done is educational theatre. As I approach graduation, I approach a time where educational theatre may no longer be an option for me.

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[Enter HOOSIER SHAKES.] I wasn’t sure at first what the purpose of Hoosier Shakes was; I thought it was just a Shakespeare company hoping to bring the Bard’s works to mid-Indiana. Nevertheless, it caught my attention, and I began to look forward to the opportunity to do theatre outside the context of education. The Marion and Wabash areas deserve to experience Shakespeare in some way other than assigned reading by some evil high school English teacher (or SparkNotes), because they need to understand how timeless, impactful and entertaining Shakespeare’s stories are.

Then I discovered the second mission of Hoosier Shakes: to give students a taste of theatre outside the realm of school, and to cultivate networking between the professional and developing thespians involved—exactly what I needed, and exactly what I had been looking for. Students like me need a place to experience professional theatre and to understand what it is exactly they are working toward.

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As I prepare nervously for the auditions on Wednesday, I also approach them with a bit of peace of mind. Sure, there are a couple roles in Twelfth Night and King Lear that I’d love to have the opportunity to play. No matter how we are cast, though, students like me will begin to see what role we have in the world of theatre.

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