One of the most difficult choices a student can make is that of the all-important major. For theater arts students this is doubly difficult. They are pressured from many sides to go for something a little more practical or at least have something to fall back on.
The choice to devote your life and career to the theater means a great deal of sacrifice and many lean years. Mellisa Brittle, graduating senior in the theater arts department said, “It is worth it to follow your passion.” Brittle has been a theater student at Portland State for the past three years. She transferred here at the beginning of her sophomore year from Southern Oregon University, where she felt that they were unable to give students the one-on-one attention necessary to succeed in an arts discipline.
Brittle was introduced to the theater world by her parents when they encouraged the shy girl to take dancing classes. From there she slowly began to do some acting as well. She said that it was only a matter of time before the shyness was gone, and she had found her passion.
Here at PSU she has gotten the instructional attention she deserves and because of that, she has starred in many productions and was able to do a little directing. This year she preformed in the production of “Godspell” and directed a play entitled “I dream before I take the stand.”
Realism seems to be this graduate’s strong suit, so she has decided to investigate the possibility of going back to school in a few years to earn her master’s in education. With this advanced degree she will be able to continue performing and spend her days either teaching high school theater or doing some instruction at the college level.
The possibility of teaching at the high school level interests Brittle because, she says, “It can be a lot more challenging to be able to be involved in the whole process. In college productions there are so many components that you have to become specialized and then you miss out on other aspects of a performance.”
While Melissa pursues her dream she leaves the students who will follow in her footsteps with a few words of advice when thinking of a future in the theater: “People are too focused on money; things have a way of working themselves out if you are doing what you love.”
She seems to have the right idea and her advice could benefit students in all disciplines to do what makes them happy and have a realistic outlook on the future.
Her post-graduation plans are to spend the summer performing in the Lakewood Theater production of “Quilters” in Lake Oswego, after which she will take a break and travel to Ireland.