Shay Harris—When I was younger, my mama would often tell me that I should be an actor. I had a flair for the dramatic and entertaining people, but learning lines and performing a story never seemed like something I would do. Then came Deathtrap, a play written by Ira Levin. It was the first of four productions to be held on campus this academic year, and I remember sitting in the Tower Fine Arts theatre with my mother during Family Weekend. As I sat in the crowd, admiring the performers and mesmerized by the story, I told myself, “I’d love to do something like that.”
Fast forward four months, and I’m performing in a production myself!
Last Friday, February 23, was the opening night of Lobby Hero. This play was originally written by Kenneth Lonergan and follows a security guard in his late twenties, his stern supervisor, a despotic cop and his rookie female partner. The show takes place in the lobby of a middle-income Manhattan apartment building and follows these four characters who in their own way, want to do the right thing. Only, it’s unclear what that exactly is. I play William, the security captain, who is torn between truth and familial loyalty when his brother is arrested for murder.
Funny thing: I initially didn’t get the role after auditioning. Another person earned it, but dropped out shortly after, resulting in the director, Frank Kuhn, reaching out to me. Admittedly, I was hesitant to accept the role, but performing for people is something I’ve wanted to do since my freshman year. Entertaining, the applause, and ego inflation!
How could I say no?
So I accepted the role. However, no now told me how difficult the endeavor would be. My time working on Lobby Hero was filled with lots of adversity: memorizing my lines was difficult and learning to slow down my speech and enunciate was quite the process. On days when I’m exhausted from 4-5 hour long rehearsals, the thing that kept me going was my desire to give people a wonderful show. As an artist I believe it is my responsibility to offer the best quality service I can to my audience. Plus, I have the right enjoy myself! My mama and younger brother are coming up from NYC this Thursday to support me. They’ll be attending Friday’s show and I’m excited to entertain them. But above all, I’m happy that I overcame my initial fear of auditioning for this role. If I’d succumbed to my doubts, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this experience. It’s pushed me to grow in ways my student leadership roles haven’t and I’m grateful for that.
Any who, I’ve got homework to get to. But before I bounce, you should know that Lobby Hero is also showing at Broadway’s 2econd Stage Theater. It’s starring Michael Cera, Chris Evans, Brian Tyree Henry, and Bel Powley! I’m pretty broke right now, but I’d love to see good ol’ Captain America play an unpredictable cop.
Until next time 🙂