Suzanne Winter '01
My primary means of relating to the world around me is through story: the story of my life; the story of my family; the stories new and old, classic and contemporary, that describe the world and fill it. I majored in English and in theatre because I love story, not because I had any idea what I was going to "do with them" after Calvin.
The years I spent studying at Calvin will always elicit fond memories. The time I tried out for CTC in my freshman year and was left wondering whether Professor Korf thought my interpretation of the selected piece was the most pathetically uninformed or the most audaciously alternative take he had ever seen (I lean towards the former because I didn't make it into CTC that year). The time in Introduction to Theatre when Professor Hubbard's new son Charlie visited class and started crying just as tests were being handed back, causing an abrupt and comically obvious internal struggle of duties in the poor professor. The time one of Professor Sandberg's contacts was moving up into her brain. The time sophomore year when Professor Hubbard wrote CTC onto my schedule and the time the following year when I showed up for CTC auditions and so many people were surprised I wasn't already in the company (even a professor or two who should have marked me grievously absent if I had been part of it already). Strikes and Smorgs and Stratford; plays from inside and out; the green room; the small group of fellow theatre majors; graduating with "Men for Sale" written in masking tape on my cap. There was so much talent present, both amongst the staff and the students, and I'm proud to be an alumna of the theatre department.
Studying theatre at Calvin has proven influential beyond my participation in any level of theatrical performance, and even beyond the way I view plays, movies, and television shows. It has made me curious-about people and the way they interact with each other and their environment; about what is happening behind the scenes and between the lines. The character exercises from my first acting class, so boring and pointless to me at the time (sorry, Doc), have become a sort of obsession. Sometimes character analysis has gotten in the way of actual relationships (though correctly analyzing motivations is possible in the literary and theatrical disciplines, it is far more complex in real life).
Most of my theatre-related experience since I graduated has been in the form of my church's annual youth group banquet entertainment, which I have been heavily involved with for five years now. From the first ambitious attempt (a slightly abridged version of The Importance of Being Earnest) to the most recent endeavor (a variety show laced with Airband-style performances), my experiences at Calvin have lent flavor to these evenings.
As for my "real life," I tend to think of myself as pretty entertaining in person and in writing, but pretty boring as far as actual life details go, especially when about seven years of life details are being condensed into a few paragraphs. I've had the same job/church/apartment for most of the past seven years since graduating from Calvin. My life is pretty stagnant, if you look at the broad-strokes version. But there are big things that have happened since I graduated. Things I don't think to talk about as quickly because they seem either only marginally connected to me or all too connected. Divorces and deaths; weddings and births. And then there are the little things, even more easily overlooked, that are actually not little at all: the details of friendships and family and spiritual growth.
My story, which intertwines with so many other stories, is part of a larger story-that of a God who is moving and active and whose reality breathes life into all stories, as he breathes it into all of us. Any story told without him is a story taken out of context. I'm grateful for the myriad ways he has made himself known in my life, and that Calvin has been a part of that ongoing process of revelation.
Advice for aspiring actors
Don't be afraid of "degrading" your theatrical talents by using them in small forums. If you are serving people with your gifts, the size of your audience isn't as important as you might think.