My W&L: Nick Lehotsky ’15
“I had been drawn to W&L by the wide array of courses I would be compelled to take, but was hardly aware of how they could help my desired profession.”
As a first-year, I auditioned for the Bentley musical Cabaret, on a whim. Not because I like musicals (I really don’t, though I have grown to appreciate them) but because I’m always on the lookout for new acting experiences, which challenge me to apply acting and other skills to a final production. The audition consisted of a one to two minute monologue, and cold singing from the musical score. I felt confident in my mediocre monologue skills, but knew for certain I couldn’t sing. Hopefully, the director would understand.
He did more than understand; he opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. I came to W&L completely unaware of what I wanted to do with my life, and the director not only helped me discover that I want to act, but that I want to focus intensely upon acting. At the time, I thought such a concentration required a transfer, namely to an acting program elsewhere. He helped me find and polish monologues, as well as apply to several great acting programs. Everyone in the Theater Department supported my choice to transfer, and several professors wrote very touching letters of recommendation. I auditioned at the universities, briefly interacted with a multitude of talented people, and found that studying for four years at a highly competitive program meant sacrificing some things.
Namely, performing on a stage in front of a public audience. Until, in some instances, late in my sophomore year. And then, I would be contending with the numerous other talented individuals for a single role. By this point of my freshman year at W&L, I had performed in Cabaret (playing a character who also was born in Harrisburg, PA. Coincidence, you might say. Typecasting, my father sardonically remarked), and several other shows, not to mention some readings, all of which had public audiences. I talked with Grant Aleksander ‘12 after a session of Professor Martinez’s Acting for the Camera class (which he guest taught) about my difficult decision, and he reminded of just how unique my situation was. As Grant had once been in the same boat, he understood the necessity of polishing one’s skill set for the highly competitive job market, but from my freshman year alone, I’d had more roles than I’d probably get in all of my time at an acting program elsewhere. Like I said before, I relish new acting experiences. Right there, the choice became obvious, and my heart (well, all of me, really, but a little metonymy never hurt anybody) remained here.
Thanks to the numerous opportunities on campus, I developed my acting skills through frequent involvement in a large number of productions. And the liberal arts curriculum worked out pretty well, too. I had been drawn to W&L by the wide array of courses I would be compelled to take, but was hardly aware of how they could help my desired profession.
Tom Oppenheim, the artistic director of The Stella Adler Studio of Acting, once remarked that “Growth as an actor and growth as a human being are synonymous.” The summer before my junior year, thanks to W&L, I studied at Stella Adler, in one of their Summer Conservatory programs. Here I took classes in movement, scene study, Shakespeare, script interpretation, Adler technique, voice and speech, and improvisation. After this experience, it really hit me. So much of what actors do requires a thorough processing of dense amounts of knowledge in little time, often with unfamiliar material. Here at W&L, I was not only learning about topics outside my desired career, I was becoming aware of how my mind best grasps knowledge, and even how I can communicate that knowledge most effectively. W&L compelled me to follow the words of Robert Downey Jr., who once advised actors to be “[a]lways searching, sometimes hunting, but never resting.”