How Musical Theatre Shaped Who I Am

I started theatre at the age of nine and continued with it until the age of 18. I always felt happiest up on stage in front of an audience. Theatre forced me to become comfortable in front of large amounts of people very early on which boosted my confidence more than I ever knew.

I never really had dreams of being on Broadway, my goal for each show was to do my personal best. I love going back and watching old DVD’s because my stage presence gets significantly better every show. Theatre is an amazing way to boost self confidence because the audience gives so much reassurance about what you are doing. It is not easy as a nine-year-old to remember choreography, song lyrics, and lines, but I have seen so many young kids perfect their performance in the end. It’s impossible to tell what you’re capable of before your first performance but once you leave it all on the stage you feel an instant wave of relief and accomplishment.

The Spring after my freshman year of high school I was nominated for EMACT’S (Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theatres) Best Young Actress award which was a high point of my theatre career. It was for my role as the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. The nomination came as quite a surprise to me and I felt elated to attend the award gala and see many other talented actors. 13-year-old Hannah did not exactly feel at place in a room surrounded by much older actors  who had been performing longer than I had been alive. Looking around me and realizing that I was being recognized side by side with so many other amazing people made me hold my head up a little higher and smile a little brighter. Although I did not win the award, being recognized for doing what you love is always an achievement in itself. The nomination showed me that what I was doing was meaningful not only to myself, but to others. I had always felt a little different being a theatre kid and never getting involved with sports so this source of validation made a big difference in my social development in high school.

Through the Easton Children’s Theatre I was able to perform for nine years as well as become an assistant director for about five years. I helped out with two musicals during the year and over the summer I was a counselor for a four week camp that resulted in a completed musical. This opportunity allowed me to choreograph many shows and help young actors between the ages of 9 and 15 sharpen their acting skills and gain confidence on stage. It is amazing how much a young actor can change between their audition and opening night. The amount of joy I feel watching a completed show has brought me to tears multiple times because I feel so much pride in the actors. I wouldn’t trade my theatre experience for anything in the world and I would do anything to relive every show I directed one more time.

Flash forward to my senior year of high school, I knew that my theatre career was coming to a close. My major was declared at Emerson and I wasn’t too sad about my final curtain call at my high school musical. Theatre was the right choice for me throughout high school and I did not regret any of the late night choreography sessions or stressful dress rehearsals. To all of the theatre kids out there, you are making the best decision by sticking with it and performing on a stage. You will carry the skills and confidence with you for the rest of your life and it will bring you many, many opportunities (theatre related or not) in the future.

Because of musical theatre, I am now able to speak in front of crowds, hold myself with poise, and watch young actors grow  with my guidance. When I start to reminisce on my theatre experience I miss it more and more. There is absolutely nothing else like live theatre which makes the feeling irreplaceable in my heart. I hope one day I will step foot on a stage because I really do still hear it calling my name.

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Taking Advantage of Boston’s Art Scene

Whether you are an art connoisseur or not, Boston’s art museums are a must see. Beautiful exhibitions are scattered all throughout the city and admission is free or discounted for all of them if you are an Emerson student! Here is a quick look at some of the great things these museums have to offer:

Museum of Fine Arts

Admission: Free with your Emerson ID

Must see: Egyptian Art Exhibit

One piece of advice: Plan to spend an entire day at the MFA…maybe even two. The MFA is the most classic museum experience on this list, showcasing a wide variety of artistic styles and classic paintings from different time periods. This museum offers art collections from all across the world to really put into perspective the vast array of artistic styles that exist. There are also photography exhibits, prints, drawings, musical instruments, and jewelry scattered throughout the museum.

It can be overwhelming how much content is inside the MFA, but each room deserves as much attention as the last.

Pottery at the MFA. Credit: Flickr.com

For all sports fans looking for something interesting…there is an exhibition all about David Ortiz that is open from now until September 4th. Tickets must be bought to view this gallery, but anything is worth it for Big Papi, right? Ortiz’s 2013 World Series MVP ring will also be on display, so get a close look while you can!

A rainy day is best spent at the Museum of Fine Arts, or multiple rainy days in a row!

 

ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art

Admission: Student discount with ID

Must See: Nari Ward: Sun Splashed

The ICA is a great place for college students to explore. The exhibits are fun, modern, and sometimes interactive. Each exhibit is important to view, many often presenting social and political issues in unique mediums.

This museum really makes you think about what you are seeing and how it can be interpreted to convey a bigger message. There is also a new exhibit by Dana Schutz being put up right now, set to open July 26th…even more new art to check out!!

ICA at night. Credit: Flickr.com

The large glass building overlooking Boston Harbor could not be more picturesque if it tried, and you could easily spend a whole day enjoying the incredible views. Aside from the amazing art, the ICA also holds outdoor concerts every Friday in July and August. These fun outdoor events feature new DJ’s every week and certain themed events to keep things new and interesting. The ICA always keeps me guessing, and I cannot wait to see what fun thing comes out next.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Admission: Student discount with ID (or free if your name is Isabella!)

Must See: Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is like something out of a movie. The minute you step inside the museum it feels like you are taken back in time, admiring all of the beautiful paintings and scenery. The inner courtyard is breathtaking, and visible from every angle of the museum.

What makes this museum unique is that Isabella Stewart Gardner actually used to reside in the building before it turned into a museum, and still resembles a home in many ways. The tall ceilings and wooden floors add a homey feel to the artwork which is something you do not see everyday.

I highly recommend reading up on the Gardner heist before visiting, as it adds excitement and a bit of spookiness to your visit.

A great addition to the museum is the modern wing, which is the only part of the museum with changing exhibits. Set aside from the original building, this modern room showcases beautiful artwork and sculptures to add a modern twist. Next to the modern room is also the Gardner Museum’s incredible concert hall, which must be seen in person to truly admire. Isabella Stewart Gardner had a passion for music and this hall keeps her spirit alive in a beautiful space. The concert schedule and ticket options can be found on the museum’s website.

 

The Museum of Bad Art

Admission: Free museum passes can be requested.

Must See: “Dog” By: Unknown

After you have admired all of the famous pieces in the previously listed places…why not lighten the mood with this fun museum?? The MOBA gallery in Somerville is a private institution that is committed to celebrating bad art. Located in the basement of a theater, it is not the most glamorous of exhibits. That being said, it is definitely a memorable experience. It is a one of a kind museum visit and every piece of art is sure to make you chuckle.

Can’t get enough of the bad art? Have no fear, there is now a book available for purchase, “The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks,” that showcases the worst of the worst, bottom of the barrel pieces of artwork.

Some pieces imitate famous works like the Mona Lisa, and with others it can be hard to decipher what is going on at all…

Quirky and humorous, the MOBA is Boston museum fun for all ages and a great way to lighten the mood after viewing maybe one too many gorey war depictions.

I hope this master list of Boston museum’s inspires you to view some new places and some very cool art.

 

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Easy Tricks For Taking Better Instagram Photos

Despite how much we may deny it, we all know that we notice how many likes our pictures get on Instagram. Especially if a post we thought would do well, doesn’t. The standards for a good Instagram account at Emerson are high‒I mean, how are you supposed to compete with all the photography accounts, all white aesthetic pages, and modeling accounts? Well, I’m not saying that your page will get famous overnight, but I can assure you following a few simple guidelines will get you a few more likes here and there.

Always make sure your horizon line is straight.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone posts a photo of a landscape, and the line is crooked. It’s basically impossible to get a perfectly straight horizon line when you’re using your iPhone to shoot (like I do,) but there is an easy way to fix this before you post it. Go to your photos, click edit, and then the crop/straighten icon. Drag the image around until your horizon line matches one of the lines on the grid, and then you’re all set.

Don’t rely on pre-made filters.

Although it may be easier to upload a photo, click one of Instagram’s filters, and then post, it doesn’t always work out that well. You can almost always do a better job touching up the picture yourself (whether you’re using an editing app like VSCO or just the edit feature directly on Instagram.) There are a lot of options for what you can do to the photo, but I recommend sticking with fixing the brightness, contrast, the highlights, and the shadows. Play around with these for a few minutes and you can seriously upgrade the photo without making it look too obvious (like a filter would do.)

Be careful with vertical photos.

If you go out with your girls and you didn’t get a good photo, did you really even go out? Everyone’s natural instinct when taking a picture with a few friends is usually to take a vertical photo with the people filling the whole screen. Although this would look great printed out, or posted on Facebook, a vertical picture isn’t always the best choice for Instagram. Yes, Instagram made it possible to make the whole thing fit without cutting anyone’s head off, but it could still mess up your feed. On your feed, only a square version of the photo will appear, which means some heads or feet will still be cut off of your vertical picture. You can easily avoid this by either leaving some empty space on the top and bottom of the photo, or by taking a horizontal picture to begin with (which is my personal go-to). Trust me, your feed will thank you.

Take your selfies on the camera app, not Snapchat.

It’s so tempting to take all of your selfies on Snapchat, where the image doesn’t flip and you don’t have to wonder why your face always looks off when it does. But the cold, hard truth is that the quality of the camera app is just overall better than Snapchat. Downloading a picture from Snapchat (and then editing it) runs the risk of becoming grainy, while a camera photo usually stays sharp no matter what you do to it. My advice is to learn to love how you look in the selfies where the image flips because that’s how the rest of the world usually sees you, anyway. The only person that’s accustomed to seeing your face in mirror images is you, so while you may think you look better, everyone else may think you look just a little different. (And to piggy-back off my last tip, I also recommend trying horizontal selfies over vertical ones so nothing gets cropped).

Heart Map Series: Jess

1. Politics: I like to say that I love politics, even when I don’t like politics. The current political climate is obviously not ideal, but that doesn’t mean I have any less of an interest in the study of politics and government. I make an effort to learn as much as I can and to keep up with current events. If I could pick my dream future, it would be one where I have a career in which I get paid just to write about politics.

2. Netflix: I chose to highlight Netflix on this list because the majority of TV shows I watch are Netflix originals or at least ones available for viewing on Netflix. I’m an avid House of Cards fan and am anxiously awaiting its return this May. I also enjoy Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black. Just last week, I finished 13 Reasons Why and while I have some complaints about how the show handled difficult topics, I can’t say I wasn’t hooked on it.

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Challenging the Literary Canon

After years of being assigned books to read for school, have you ever wondered why the same authors find their way onto every English teacher’s syllabus? I can still remember most of the books I was assigned in high school, throughout my years of Honors and AP English classes. As a freshman, I can recall reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My sophomore English syllabus emphasized Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Victor Hugo. Junior year was my AP Language course, which consisted primarily of analyzing speeches from great men of times past, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

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Can A Superhero Movie Really Be a “Good” Movie?

I love superhero movies, but I don’t love all superhero movies. For instance, although I’m a fan of most of the Marvel movies (as in, the films released by Disney-Marvel Studios), I was sorely disappointed by Avengers: Age of Ultron. I hated the romance added between the Hulk and Black Widow, which was a sub-plot that genuinely came out of left field. The movie, overall, felt like it was holding back from reaching its potential—because Disney was opting to save their best content for Avengers: Infinity War, set to be released in 2018. Though a fun movie that I enjoyed watching, Age of Ultron was a let-down, and that was the consensus I saw online as well.

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Backstock for Standing Rock with Pub Club

It has always been important to take action, but now is an essential time to be advocating for social and political change. That includes taking action here on Emerson’s campus, in the greater Boston area, or beyond.

But, sometimes advocacy can mean showing solidarity. Or fundraising in support of an issue or movement. That’s why Undergraduate Students for Publishing (or Pub Club) has decided to spend a week selling its back stock to fundraise for Standing Rock. If you’re unfamiliar with Standing Rock, here’s a brief summary: The Standing Rock protests are in response to a proposal to build the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). If built, the pipeline would threaten the water that many indigenous people in the area depend on. Despite the freezing weather, protests have continued at Standing Rock for months now.

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Theatre as a Safe Space

It’s 2016 and news is traveling incredibly fast. In the wake of the presidential election, it’s hard to keep track of every political issue or scandal being buzzed about by the media. But, there’s one news story that has definitely kept my attention. A few weeks ago, Vice President-Elect Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton the Musical—you know, the mega-popular musical that seems eternally sold-out. To me, just knowing that Pence attended a performance of Hamilton would have been news enough, considering some of his positions. But, what actually made this story news was what happened once the VP-Elect arrived at the theater.

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Emerson Alumni: They Went Here?

Anyone who attends Emerson is probably well-accustomed to hearing about the different celebrity alumni that have walked the school’s hallowed halls (although Emerson has changed campus locations numerous times over the years). Yes, Emerson loves to talk about its Emerson Mafia. Of course, an impressive list of alumni is something for the college to be proud of. It’s nice to know, after all, that a good amount of people who have attended and graduated from Emerson have gone on to do incredible things.

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