Backstage with Mr. Olson

Contributing writer Katie Farrington discusses defining aspects of the theatre program with Mr. Marcus Olson, instructor in theatre.

What do you hope students take away from the theatre program?

I hope that they come away with a sense of play and work, but also try to see the world from a different perspective [by] studying other characters. [In acting,] you try to put yourself in other people’s skin[s], and I think that makes you a more empathetic person. I also want students to come away with an appreciation for theatre and go to live shows and become a good audience member. [I want students to] understand how much work [theatre] is, because lots of people who don’t study theatre don’t understand the kind of training actors have to go through and how much work goes into the theatre.

Do you think theatre is important to have at the school?

There is a long history of theatre here, you know, [the] HDA program was formed around 1903. The founder, [Mariah Bissell Hotchkiss,]  was a big fan of theatre, so she made sure that boys could act if they wanted to. I think it is a different way for students to bond, to work towards a common goal and to have an artistic pursuit. You can learn a lot about what it’s like to be a human being, because you are studying human emotions. This school has always supported the arts, in fact, it is one of the reasons I took this job. They really understand that it is a serious study.