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For the Love of Performance

by Noemi Arellano-Summer

Photography Courtesy of Amanda Willis

Through my own experiences as a dancer I’ve come to appreciate the nuances of art. Fashion, color and pattern catch my eye where they did not before. The intricacies and the intense practice involved in being able to perform the 32 fouettes in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Over time I realized that I enjoyed watching shows more than performing in them, but my love for the craft has not faded. It’s beautiful to watch an advanced student dance a solo in pointe shoes during a rehearsal, even without an elaborate costume. And it’s still as emotionally compelling to just watch The Nutcracker with my family at Christmas.

For students who dedicate their time, their energy, and their GPA to theater and performance arts, the love runs deeper and fuller.

Rosalind Bevan (CFA ’19) is a theatre arts design and production major who has always been involved in theatre.

“The moment that I think really solidified that I wanted to study theatre and do it professionally was when I was in a production of Godspell at my high school,” Bevan said. “We performed in a really intimate theatre space and I remember during the show hearing the people in the audience sniffling and I could see tears in their eyes.”

The emotional vulnerability of both performers and the work they convey is especially empowering for directors and screenwriters like Bevan.

“I remember realizing the power and responsibility we had as artists to really affect an audience,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to direct in high school, which is what focused my interest in directing live theatre.”

Bevan is one of four directors working on an annual project called The Directors’ Project and is currently directing a one-act play titled Am I Blue, originally written by Beth Henley.

There are times when Bevan wonders about the college experience she’s chosen to give herself. She questions the hours spent in the theater, the lost time she could have spent partying or hanging out with friends like the typical college student.

“There have been moments after long, grueling rehearsals where I am walking home and I wonder what it would be like to have a different college experience where I don’t spend every weekday evening in rehearsal or all of Saturday in rehearsal,” she said. “It’s in these moments where I truly realize how many hours of my life and college experience I have devoted to theatre and there’s that tiny twinge of doubt and a kind of fear of missing out on other things that BU has to offer.”

Boston University is currently expanding its on-campus performance opportunities for student groups and classes in the College of Fine Arts. Before, the Boston University Theater at the Huntington Theater was the main source for larger-scale performances, but a new venue in West Campus offers more accessible, state-of-the art facilities, for reasonably sized audiences.

The Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre and Production Center is due to open this December on the Charles River campus. The theatre complex includes the 250-seat theatre, as well as design studios, production and costume shops, offices and smart classrooms.

“Along with the rest of the school of theatre community, I am so excited for our new theatre,” said Bevan. “I have already been in the various production shops and they are breathtaking and truly state of the art. We are so incredibly lucky.”

There will be a housewarming event on December 7 at the theatre’s address of 820 Commonwealth Ave., and the new theatre will begin with a performance of Rhinoceros on February 21. Performances of Inmotion theatre: The Journey and Antigone will occur later in the spring.

The dedication that Boston University reflected toward funding performance arts also keys in to the dedication Bevan and others place in their craft, for both the entirety of the semester as well as looking ahead toward the future of their careers.

“[CFA students] make me proud to be an artist because they remind me of the responsibility that we have as artists in a world that can be really dark and ugly right now,” Bevan said. “We take what we do seriously, but I am also reminded that theatre is play. We are playing. We are storytelling.”

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