Written By Elizabeth Funderburk, Staff Writer
Olivia “Liv” Trusty has been seeing plays her whole life, but only became involved in theatre herself during her junior year of high school. However, it wasn’t until she arrived at Austin College that she decided to dedicate herself to theatre, pursuing a major in the subject. She has acted, done various technical jobs, served as a stage manager, been on the Austin College Improv Troupe (also known as TACIT) and even directed her own play during the past four years. Her proudest moment came when she played the role of Emilie in Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight, directed by Austin College alumna Abbey Goodman ‘21. “It was my first time proving to myself that I could truly act in a meaningful way,” Liv explained. “I’d been used to doing comedies, and this was much more serious.”
Just last month, the show Liv directed, These Shining Lives, premiered in the Beardsley Arena Theater. While both Emilie and These Shining Lives hold a special place in her heart, Liv doesn’t have a favorite show that comes to mind. She had positive things to say about every play she’s been a part of. She did, however, come to the conclusion that the worst show was no show at all.
Another highlight of Liv’s four years at Austin College has been her time on the Improv Troupe. She joined as a freshman, and described it as “a way for me to get my energy out and be silly.” However, when COVID-19 forced the college to move remotely, so did TACIT. “Zoom-prov just wasn’t the same, so I’m really glad I’m doing it in person again. It really pushes us to think outside of the box.”
Chloe Bachofen has been doing theatre since grade school, and continued to do it into highschool and college. Much like her fellow acting student and friend Liv, she has acted and done tech for numerous shows, directed an online show, and participated in improv. Her proudest moment was performing her manifesto, a form of improvized drama, last December. “It was an extremely vulnerable thing for me to do,” she said, “and it was very personal. However, she felt that her most personally significant role was starring as Catherine Donohue in These Shining Lives. Chloe also enjoys improv, and spoke about her time as part of TACIT: “It allowed me to get out my goofy energy and just play. It’s almost like being a kid again.”
Similarly to Liv, Chloe couldn’t pick an official favorite show, but she did tell me that her favorite time doing a show was when she was in Exit Laughing because of the happiness it brought her. She loved the people in it and they were the reason it was so much fun.
Sonia Charales did some theatre in middle school, but had a bad experience with it in high school in which the program’s directors showed preferential bias towards white students and pushed students of color to the side. “Because of that, I didn’t think I wanted to do theatre in college,” she said, “but then in the spring of my freshmen year I was asked to do costumes for Silent Sky and I had so much fun doing it.” Sonia has never been much of an actor, but loves the technical aspect of theatre. “Tech is super underrated but it’s where we form our own community backstage,” she said, adding that “both [acting and tech] are really complicated and come with their own difficulties.” She also enjoys being the house manager for theatre productions. “Opening for Circle Mirror Transformation was really fun because I got to introduce people I care about and then watch them shine on stage.”
Her favorite show at Austin College was Seeking Grace because it was where she met some of her best friends (and sorority sisters) in addition to helping director and AC alumna Hannah Barry put together her vision of the show through designing costumes. “I could tell she had truly put her heart and soul into the process of creating an a cappella musical,” Sonia said. Her proudest moment, however, was organizing Raise Your Voice and knowing that she had made something special. “The flower throwing moment specifically was incredibly special to me. I felt proud of who I was.”
Last but not least, Shannon Fagen did theatre for the first time in elementary school when she did Shakespeare for kids, but she really started to enjoy being onstage around seventh or eighth grade and then got involved in the tech aspect of theatre in college. For example, she was the sound board operator for Emilie, and found it fun to learn how to edit audio and to get to hang out with other technicians.
The first show she saw at Austin College, Haunting of Hill House, was also her favorite show. “I wasn’t in it, but it was a really fun show to see. It was also the first time I saw the improv troupe perform afterwards.” This was meaningful to Shannon because she has loved being part of TACIT. Her favorite part of being on the troupe is how it helped her become both more self aware and more aware of other people within scenes. “It has also made me feel less self conscious and helped me give and take feedback.” Her proudest moment was opening for Rocky Horror this year with the rest of TACIT’s members. “I really saw how far I’ve come as a troupe member,” she said, nothing that she didn’t get much improv experience in high school.
All of the seniors I interviewed are also members of Alpha Psi Omega, the theatre honor society. Shannon serves as vice president, and said that “It feels more involved than other honor societies I’m a part of because we actually have a community that serves as an extension to the theatre program as a whole. Being VP has made me much better at dealing with conflict within a group. Also, we are not the same as APO!”
To see more of these wonderful seniors before they graduate in May, come see Assassins at 7:30 PM in the Sally and Jim Nation Theatre April 28th, 29th, or 30th, as well as the annual Improvathon on May 7th.