Senior Spotlight: “Drama Queen” Maggie Farrell

By Grace Arenas
Elm Staff Writer

As a drama major, senior Maggie Farrell has had her share of unique experiences throughout her four years at Washington College.

“I was designing lights for ‘Spring Awakening,’” she said, “which meant I went into the theatre around midnight when the rest of the cast and crew were gone, and I would play music really loud just to keep myself awake. One night, I was listening to Lady Gaga at full blast, this was at four in the morning, dancing around like a moron, and I looked down from the catwalks, and there was a public safety officer staring at me. Neither of us said anything. I just walked over, turned down the music, and he left.”

Coming from a small high school in Pennsylvania, Maggie knew she was looking for similar traits in a college: the same kind of environment with a small professor-student ratio. She also wanted to make sure she had equally strong instruction in all areas.

“WC wasn’t something that claimed to be a liberal arts college and actually only focused on a few disciplines,” she said. “It was somewhere I could really get a well-rounded education.”

Drama, the major, that is, took over Maggie’s life at WC early in her freshman year.

“I came here wanting to be a history major, but within a month, I knew it was going to be drama,” she said. She got involved in productions as a stage crew member during her first weeks on campus and her passion has only grown since.

“Drama eats your life and soul in the best ways. As a drama major, I often feel like my classes get in the way of my college education,” she said, adding that the many hours of rehearsal, though rewarding, can be stressful.

Her senior playwrighting thesis, “Conversations With God,” was no exception.

“That’s the thing, in every aspect of theatre there comes a time where you absolutely hate what you’re doing, but you just push through it,” she said.

She said the production of her thesis “was a great process. For a year and a half I developed a script with my professors, and at the end of last year I asked my future roommate, Maggie Matthews, to direct it. It was a weird transition, because it went from being mine to ours in about an hour, and after that it belonged to everybody else involved.”

How did Maggie react to having to share her work with so many others?

“It’s amazing, because the script develops in many ways you couldn’t have imagined on your own. The first time an actor makes a decision about a character you don’t agree with, you want to jump in,” she said, noting that despite those difficulties, the experience was ultimately “incredibly humbling and incredibly gratifying.”

When asked whether she thought drama majors were too easily dismissed, Maggie said, “I think it’s difficult to know how much work someone has put into a production. You might look at the stage and see three chairs and two flats. I look at it and see 16 hours of work.”

In all of her drama endeavors, Maggie has found the department’s professors to be a constant inspiration.

“Michelle Volansky is perhaps the least professorial person I’ve ever met, but the best professor I’ve ever had,” she said. “Her classes are theatre-based classes that happen to teach you about the world at large.”
She went on to say that what has made her favorite professors so great is their clear desire to be at WC, teaching.

“To face so many years of experience is amazingly intimidating and propels you to extremes in your work,” she said. “It’s because of T.M. and Dale and Jason that you realize how much confidence you have. They know who you are and what you’re capable of, and won’t accept anything less than your best.”

Maggie’s love of the drama department was reciprocated when she and fellow senior Jessica Blanch were awarded the Mary Martin scholarship, which is given to senior drama majors who have shown dedication to their craft.

“It was a humbling experience to know that the department appreciates you enough to give you that,” she said.

Maggie’s post-graduation plans are already in place.

“I’m employed,” she said, laughing. “I’m hired as an apprentice at the Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania. I’ll be stage managing, doing some acting, and hopefully will get a chance to direct.”

With a new chapter unfolding in her life, what will Maggie miss most when she looks back on her days at WC?

“I think I will mostly miss being able to work with such a small and dedicated group of people. I am honestly astounded by the amount of talent on this campus. It’s amazing- we’re students, and this is what we’re capable of. I’m so fortunate to have gone to school with such smart, independent people who at the end of the day can put on a great show.”

May 6, 2011
Volume LXXXI Issue 25

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