Students begin their journey into acting with ’80s production
All professionals must get their start somewhere, whether from observation, getting their hands dirty or in this case taking classes. For MSU Denver students William Hunter and Miranda Ireland, that start is right here in the MSU Denver Theatre Department.
Hunter is a theater major with an English minor. He hones in on his acting craft while flexing his creative writing muscles through playwriting.
“My first passion would be theater and acting, and then writing after that, especially playwriting,” Hunter said. “I’ve written my own play called ‘Opium’ that just got picked up by a publisher earlier this year.”
Just as Hunter is a surprising man, his take on opium will surprise some as well.
“It’s not opium the drug which I assume people would assume, it’s the perfume. And it’s kind of a murder mystery, but not really. It’s about these two people in a room and they are plotting to kill this guy, and then they go out and do it,” Hunter said.
Hunter said that his live for playwriting goes hand in hand with his acting and that seeing the writing process has only made him a better actor.
“I think when you’re an actor you kind of look at the page and you think that the playwright had a very specific idea for how exactly a scene should go and how lines should be said. But then when I started writing the play, I realized that writing was more of a springboard for the actors to take it in several different directions,” Hunter said.
Hunter’s true passion is Shakespeare.
“Everything he says is beautiful, but also there’s an — especially with, like, “Taming of the Shrew” there’s a lot of sass in his characters. And I think people often label Shakespeare as boring simply because he’s written so long ago. But a lot of the messages are still relevant today.”
College is certainly not the end for Hunter in his theater journey.
“I want to continue playwriting, continue publishing more things. I think my main goal right now is the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. So, outside of school I’ve done “King Lear,” also, and I did some Shakespeare in high school, too, and Shakespeare here.”
Fellow student Miranda Ireland and co-star of The American Clock also has a bright future in the acting world.
After getting introduced to the performing arts by reciting Bill Cosby routines as a child, her love for the theater has only grown.
Though her love for the arts grew out of comedy, Ireland has as much interest in dramatic roles.
“It really depends on the role and it depends on the person that I’m portraying. Obviously there are some dramatic roles that I’m, like, ‘Yes, this is everything I’ve ever wanted.’ There are some comedic roles where I’m, like, ‘I literally just want to make you laugh,’ ” Ireland said.
Interestingly, she said she is always cast in roles that are simply an extension of her.
“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or, like, OK, clearly you can’t do anything else so we’re just going to cast you in this thing that requires no acting. But it’s fun. I like it. I think it’s super meta. So, every time it happens I’m, like, ‘Ah ha, I got it as myself,’ ” she said.
Although Ireland has enough credits to be a senior, she still has a couple of years left because she is a double major in psychology.
“I just really like, and I think this is why I’m drawn to, theater. I just really like the insides of people’s brains. Like, I just really like knowing how people work and what makes them tick,” Ireland said.
Ireland portrays three different characters throughout the show. “The hardest part is getting them to be
distinct,” she said. “A lot of the changing character comes from dialects and physicalization. So, it’s really interesting to see how they’re sort of making themselves known.”
In MSU Denver’s production of Arthur Miller’s classic The American Clock, Hunter plays Lee, a character that audiences get to see as starting out at the age of 14, but then follows him as he ages.
Although this play premiered in 1980, both Hunter and Ireland feel very strong about its relevance in modern society.
“The stock market crash of 2008 was fairly recent and fairly devastating and very similar to the stock market crash of 1929. So, I think there’s a lot that people can take away from this show today even though it was written in the ‘80s,” Hunter said.
Ireland enjoys the relevance of the show as well as the script itself.
“There are a few really well-written monologues that are very relevant still. Which is sort of interesting. There’s a monologue that talks about, like, an entire generation of younger people coming up and he (Miller) says that they’re withering away,” Ireland said.
There is no doubt that both Hunter and Ireland will be artistic forces to be reckoned with in the future.
Photos by Avery Anderson.