Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

All the World’s a Stage A Washington Break trip to New York City opened students’ eyes to future possibilities in theater.

Theater9-600x400 All the World's a Stage

“Not only did it expose me to different types of theater, but it also opened my eyes to the opportunities I have going forward in relation to potential careers and future education.”

~Alaina Pastore ’25

Taylor Vild ’27 expected to hear her friend Ka’Mya Clark ’27’s voice on the other end of the line but was in for a surprise when she connected with none other than “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda was in the middle of taking a selfie with Clark and other W&L students at New York’s Drama Book Shop when Vild’s call came through. He jokingly answered, “Not now, Taylor!” before hanging up to resume his picture-taking duties.

Once the photo hit the W&L Theater Department Washington Break group chat, Vild checked the bookstore’s location and sprinted all the way there. As a theater minor, she didn’t want to miss her shot to get her own photo with the theater legend.

Theater18-600x400 All the World's a StageTaylor Vild ’27 got her chance to take a picture with the “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In addition to non-scripted moments like the Miranda meeting, W&L’s Theater Department designed a full itinerary for 10 students wanting to spend their Washington Break exploring a wide range of productions in what they call the “theater binge.” The Sessoms Fund for Student Experiences supports the trip and allows it to be accessible for all students.

“With theater becoming pretty expensive and out of reach for a lot of people (myself included), a trip like this not only allowed me to build experiences in relation to my academic pursuits as a theater major, but also having the ability to go see shows for fun in the first place,” said Alaina Pastore ’25. “Seeing six shows in just about six days is an unheard-of experience for most, and unlike any trip I’ve gone on before.”

For strategic communication major and theater minor Lizeth Moctezuma ’27, who discovered a love for costume design and other theater classes last semester, the accessibility of this trip not only allowed her to participate but also fostered her recent curiosity.

“In a city like New York where the cost of living is really high and seeing six shows, not having your financial security stressed too much really bridges a gap for someone like me, who has little experience with something like this,” she said. “It does help guide me toward more of the different aspects of theater.”

Theater16-600x400 All the World's a StageThe students saw six shows in six days, including the Broadway show “Six.”

The shows spanned the spectrum, from Broadway to warehouses in Brooklyn, N.Y., to student productions. During their trip, the group saw “The Ally,” “The House of Bernarda Alba,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Sunset Baby,” “Six” and “The Hunt.”

Being a part of this trip helped theater major Mariah Scott ’25 learn more methods that she can take into her own acting. “One of the things I like most about theater is every time I think I’ve learned enough, there’s always more,” she said. “There’s always some little thing or added move; there’s just always something that you can add to your belt.”

After some of the performances, the students even got to meet the actors.

“The kindness and generosity of the theater artists we met was really special,” said Owen Collins, professor of theater and co-trip leader. “After putting your heart and soul onstage for a couple hours, they came out and met with people outside. So, our students got to meet people like Josh Radnor after seeing ‘The Ally,’ and Russell Hornsby after ‘Sunset Baby.’”

The department paired each show with a discussion, analyzing the performance and examining likes and dislikes. And the range of student interests — from acting to design to costuming — led to diverse talks.

“I love introducing students to new forms of theater,” said Jemma Levy, associate professor of theater and co-trip leader. “So many of them have only had experience seeing big flashy musicals, or whatever they put on in high school. This trip allows us to choose a wide variety of performances to see, and it is gratifying when I hear the students say, ‘I didn’t know theater could be like that!’”

Theater5-577x400 All the World's a StageThe group also toured backstage at the Metropolitan Opera with alumnus Henry Strauss ’61.

They also toured the Museum of Broadway, took part in an acting workshop with members of Theater Mitu and wandered backstage in the Metropolitan Opera with W&L alumnus Henry Strauss ’61. Upon returning to Lexington, many of the students felt inspired by the various opportunities in theater.

“Having the opportunity to go to one of the hubs of theater was incredible and exposed me to plays I have always wanted to see or even never heard of,” said Pastore, an English and theater double major with a minor in film studies. “Not only did it expose me to different types of theater, but it also opened my eyes to the opportunities I have going forward in relation to potential careers and future education. I learned about a lot of graduate programs and job opportunities in the theater world.”

“I feel like the trip really showed me what theater could be,” said Vild, who is considering double majoring in sociology and anthropology and biochemistry and minoring in theater. “I’ve always thought more of theater as a hobby. But it showed not only what I could go on to do but what W&L has to offer, too.”