Emma Sperka is a senior Libra (Gemini moon with Sagittarius rising), double-majoring in Theater and International Studies. She is also a tutor the Hollins University Writing Center, where I got her to answer a few questions about her role as the lead in the recent production of Goodnight Moon, The Musical, the importance of pursuing the things you are passionate about and what she’s going to do with her degree after she graduates.
AR: What made you interested in theater?
ES: I’ve done live theater for a really long time, all through primary school and secondary school –I guess you would call those elementary school and high school right? – and then I came to college and thought ‘I can’t do that for real, that’s not a real thing to do.” But I started auditioning for shows at Hollins and I realized that it was a thing I was really passionate about…applause is lovely and doing the work and the process makes me work really hard and it’s the only thing I feel that I’m really, really good at. It makes me work really hard. And the applause. It’s really the applause that got me into theater.
AR: What was the most recent production you were involved in?
ES: Goodnight Moon, The Musical at Hollins University!
AR: And what was your role?
ES: I was the bunny! I was a little seven year old boy bunny, or sort of the gender androgynous/gender non-specific bunny. But really I just got to dance and sing and jump and hurl myself across the stage in little stripped footie pajamas.
AR: Which do you prefer: dramas or musicals? Are they called dramas and musicals?
ES: Well, you have musicals and you have straight plays. Straight plays are plays where the characters don’t burst into song. I really love musicals but it’s really hard, with all the razzle-dazzle and spectacle, you have to really strongly act what dialogue there is. So I find musicals to be really challenging but straight plays are really great too, I don’t think I have a preference.
AR: D0 you have suggestions for people who are considering majoring in theater but are nervous that they wouldn’t be able to propel themselves through college and life just with a degree in theater?
ES: That’s always the difficult thing about theater or any performing art, the concern that you’re not going to succeed, like you’re giving to live as a starving artist and I haven’t gone out into the real world so I can’t speak for that but I can speak for succeeding at Hollins and my ‘journey’ to becoming a Theater Major. I just kept showing up and wanting to do it, I just wanted to do things and I did everything, I even did tech things and I hate tech things but I did them because I wanted to be a part of it. So you just keep showing up and just being positive. You show up and you throw yourself out there and if you want to be a Theater Major, be prepared to do productions which take up a lot of time and you gotta love it, it is your love of the art that will propel you through life. But it’s hard work, especially at Hollins because we do professional level productions, which is really exciting. So be prepared to work and be prepared to say goodbye to your free evenings.
AR: So people shouldn’t assume that being a theater major is just taking acting classes?
ES: No! No way. Especially at Hollins because it is a liberal arts school you will learn everything. I’ve taken lighting design classes, I’ve taken playwriting classes, I’ve taken classes on stagecraft, which is basically how to use power tools and adhesive and fasteners and things like that. And it’s great because you learn to appreciate everything and you can do everything, it’s not like going to a big Conservatory where you only learn one thing and don’t get a chance to really do anything for three years. You get to take part in every part of the theater profession So you can go work as a stagehand at some big production and when you drop a giant stage weight on the lead you can step in because you know how to do everything! Not that that would ever happen, knock on wood…but yes. I definitely think Hollins is a great place to be a Theater Major.