Aspiring Actress Profile
Eyes glazed over with concentration, the actress quickly murmured the words of a poem, hoping, she said, to commit them to memory. Then, grabbing a white, spotted stuffed dog from her cluttered dorm room floor, she abruptly began reciting the poem aloud. She then recited it twice more and slightly altered her performance each time by trying different props and gestures, looking for the perfect combination.
"When you perform something, it's finished. The audience doesn't see what it took to get there," she said.
Laura Weinstein, 18, a freshman in the School of Speech, will present her finished performance of the Emily Dickinson poem she rehearsed, "I'm Nobody! Who Are You?" on Jan. 24 to her Analysis and Performance of Literature class. Although she does not usually like Dickinson's work, she connected with this poem, she said.
"It's like when you see a movie and you can't really explain why you like it," she said.
Weinstein of Livingston, N.J. said she became fascinated with theater and performance in eighth grade after seeing Rent on Broadway. Four years ago, she landed her first theatrical role, playing Valentine in the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival's Twelfth Night.
Between 10th and 11th grade, Weinstein attended Columbia University's Summer Theater Institute. She found inspiration in Kevin Kittle, her acting teacher.
"He could just read people. I loved him-even though he was a Yankee fan," said Weinstein, a fervent Mets supporter.
Of all the roles she has played, Weinstein's favorite was Mrs. Boyle in Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. She relished playing the crotchety old woman who is killed at the end of the first act. Her performance also seemed to convince the audience, she said.
"'Yeah, thank God that bitch is dead!'" she said, laughing as she quoted what one audience member yelled when her character perished.
But for all the fun acting is for Weinstein, it also requires sacrifices from her. Acting requires a big time commitment, Weinstein said. She has had to sacrifice a lot of time she could have spent with friends to rehearse shows.
Also, acting can be emotionally tortuous. To work, actresses must go through many difficult auditions, she said.
"You have to be prepared for people to be judging you all the time on irrational things," she said.
Since coming to Northwestern, Weinstein has worked on the run crew for the theater department's production of Titanic.
"It's a great way to stay involved with the theater," she said.
Currently, she is a stage manager for the Women's Coalition's production of The Vagina Monologues. She must call cues, set props, contact actors, and remember schedules.
"Basically being the director's right-hand man," she said.
Weinstein said her friends admire her for pursuing acting even though initially, she probably will not make a lot of money. Her parents, however, applaud her decision to pursue a second major, political science.
"My brother is a musician, so my parents think, 'We're going to have two out-of-work kids forever,'" she said.
Weinstein, however, sees a future for herself in her chosen career because she believes she has what it takes to succeed.
"An absolutely irrational love of it," she said. "Just seeing a great musical--that reminds me why I do it."
Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002