I am UAA: Sarah Shoemaker, Theatre Student

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

UAA senior Sarah Shoemaker was once a shy introvert afraid to make friends. "I was socially awkward," she said. But today, she is an energetic theatre major getting the center stage spotlight in multiple plays and musicals.

UAA theatre student Sarah Shoemaker

Growing up in Soldotna, Sarah was an academically focused student who took a leap into theatre after watching her sister act in a play. "It looked like a lot of fun," she said.

Improvisation (or improv) theatre is what makes Sarah's blood pump. "You have to think on your toes and be mentally ready to go into battle. It's definitely an adrenaline rush."

Sarah's affinity for theatre stems from its ability to create bonds among people. "There's a web-like connection that trickles out from the actors to the audience to get a message across. When the audience laughs, cries or sits in silence, we know we've succeeded," she said. "This is what theatre is all about-building that connection."

But it's not only about connecting with the audience that is most fun to Sarah. The rehearsal is what she lives for. "During rehearsal, we become a family. We trust each other and know that the other person on stage will save me if I need help."

Sarah said she wouldn't be the woman she is today if it weren't for her UAA theatre professors. "There are so many professors who have helped me grow and inspired me to break out of my shell." One of them, Fran Lautenberger, UAA theatre and dance professor, has impacted Sarah's acting. "She has so much confidence in me. It's the most wonderful feeling in the world when someone believes in you."

UAA theatre student Sarah ShoemakerAs a UA scholar, it was an easy decision for Sarah to attend UAA. "The UA scholars program is wonderful," she said. But it wasn't until Sarah was at UAA that she emerged from her shyness. "UAA definitely helped me develop better social skills. I don't think I would have had as great of an experience anywhere else."

Sarah is currently preparing for auditions at several theatre graduate programs in the Lower 48. "A graduate level education is important to me. I look at most of my professors and peers that I respect, and nearly all of them have their master's degrees. They all seem to have this wealth of knowledge that comes along with advanced training, and I want that," she said.

Getting into a theatre graduate program isn't easy. Sarah will audition with nearly 2,000 other actors in hopes to fill one of the few spots in a graduate program. "Schools only have auditions for graduate school about every three years. We'll have three minutes to introduce ourselves and perform a monologue. Needless to say, I'm practicing already."

Even with the theatre field so hard to break into, Sarah can't see herself doing anything else. She's considered doing acting on cruise ships to trying to become a part of the Chicago Improv scene. "It really doesn't matter where I end up because I know I'll love it as long as it involves theatre."

By watching Sarah perform you'd never know this bright, lively student was once a quiet and timid person. "I've been very blessed as an actor," she said.

With all of her experience, she still gets butterflies before she goes on stage. "I still get nervous, but it all goes away once I get out there and say my first line. Then, I'm ready to go back out and do it again!"

With Sarah's confidence, and now, extroverted personality, theatre seems to be just the ticket to increasing her fulsome attitude that sets her apart. "I love the creative freedom with acting. I always want to grow."

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