Theatre arts major balances senior conservatory with bundle of joy
By Emily Hoover | firstname.lastname@example.org
First photo contributed by Emily Glazier
For Nelsie Gordon, Flagler College theatre arts major, directing a one-act play for her senior conservatory class also means preparing for motherhood. She and her husband, Brandon, are expecting their first child in June.
“His name is Ethan and he’s been in four shows,” Gordon, 20, said. “I’m nervous about the labor part, but, honestly, no matter how ready you think you are or aren’t, you have to make yourself ready [for parenthood].”
This year’s senior class, who call their series of one-act productions “Baggage Claim,” have also made themselves ready for their conservatory productions, which begin on March 30 at the Flagler College Auditorium.
Because each senior in the conservatory class helps to build the set and hang the lights, as well as cast and direct their chosen shows with only a month of preparation time, they live in the theater as graduation approaches, said Gordon, who debuts “Caught in the Act” by Bruce Kane on March 30.
“We all know we’re doing [conservatory], so we start looking,” Gordon said. “When I found ‘Caught in the Act,’ I can’t explain it — I just knew.”
While Gordon said sacrifice and passion are important keys to success, positivity has allowed her to balance class, theatre and marriage.Gordon said her husband — they are high school sweethearts who began their relationship after the homecoming dance — has his own barcode business, which he will keep when they move back to their shared hometown of Brooksville, Fla., after graduation.
“Brandon knows this is my time,” she said. “He’s busy too — this is his time to start his career. Sometimes, I have no idea [how I do this]. But, I maintain positivity because I’m surrounded by the things I love.”
The class holds auditions at the beginning of the semester after choosing their plays, paying the royalties and contacting publishers, she said.
Gordon said “the time crunch,” paired with sharing the stage with other student directors, has been the most stressful part of senior conservatory. In other classes, the students have until finals week to finish the production. However, she said conservatory is accelerated and the student directors “have an entire month cut from rehearsals.”
Emily Glazier, who chose “The Problem” by A.R. Gurney Jr., agrees.
“I wish I had more time to direct my show,” she said. “I’m sort of nit-picky. I would have liked more time to work the smaller moments in my show. You have those big moments when characters kiss or fight, but it’s those smaller, more intimate moments that need time.”
Because of limited time, Glazier, who aspires to direct in the future, said she and her cast have rehearsed “in whatever nook and cranny we can find,” including the theater lobby, the women’s dressing room, the second stage, the library and the student center.
“I wish the rehearsal time could have been longer, so I could tweak it more,” she said. “But in the real world, you only have a certain amount of time. We just have to make it work.”
Lindsay Bernstein — who chose “27 Flavours of Her Kiss” by Alex Broun because she wants the audience to “relate to my characters in a way that makes them look at their own relationships” — said being overwhelmed is just part of the experience.
“Everything makes it stressful in as much as we are still students outside of all that we’re doing,” she said. “I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to remind myself to go to class because I’m so caught up in the work I have at the theater.”
However, Gordon said the stress is worth it.
“We’re [in theatre] because we love it,” she said. “We’re willing to sacrifice everything for it. We know making a living through theatre is a challenge, so we embrace it with passion. Conservatory has been a blast — I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Ryan Antony Nicotra, who is directing “The Interview” by Peter Swet, said the theatre program at Flagler helps to prepare students for conservatory, as well as for a career in theatre.
“In this market, we’re seeing a lot of performers find work in other areas,” he said. “All majors are required to take classes in acting, directing, scenic design, lighting, set construction, modern drama, and two semesters of theatre history. The most important thing I’ll take from this program is the permission to take risks. We should not fear failure in the pursuit of greatness.”
However, while Gordon also said she praises the Theatre Department because it “envelopes every part of theater” and has “helped me focus on performance as my passion,” her central support system comes from her husband.
“[Brandon] is very supportive, a very positive person,” she said. “He stopped by today just to give me a kiss. We are both very young, I’m 17 days older, and we’re both very sure. But, he is my best friend. He’s been there for me since I was 15.”
Gordon said she plans to pursue community and children’s theatre in Brooksville.
“We bought a house near [Brandon’s] father and right after graduation, we’re moving in,” she said. “I want to relax and stay with the baby for a while. I’ll get back into [theatre] when my children grow. Theatre isn’t something I could just give up.”
As Gordon prepares the final stages of her production, hoping the audience will relate to her characters’ decision to “choose the rules” in life, she knows she will use theatre in motherhood.
“I can teach my child how to build things at home and play dress up with costumes,” she said. “There will always be imagination and creativity in our lives.”