Artist of the Month: Jen Gately

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The Newtonite

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Senior Jen Gately plays Mitch Mahoney in last year’s production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Read our review here. Photo by Devin Perlo. 

by Amy Morrill
Senior Jen Gately is October’s Artist of the Month because of her passion for theatre. She is directing Into the Woods and Spontaneous Generation this year and hopes to act in other Theatre Ink productions as well.
Q: What do you find appealing about theatre?
A: I love the environment that it fosters. I think that, more than anything, you get to meet a smaller group of people who are very similar to you. You get to make a really nice, close knit group of friends, but you also get to learn from each other and discover how you can better yourself as a performer.
 
Q: Why did you want to get involved with theatre when you first started? How long have you been involved with it?
A: I was interested in theatre as a middle schooler and had heard from a lot of my friends that Theatre Ink was a really cool place. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I decided to audition for a few things. It turned out to be really fun and so much more than I had ever expected. In ninth grade, I started by auditioning for Freshman Cabaret, Spontaneous Generation, and the musical.
 
Q: How do you balance theatre with school work and other extracurriculars?
A: They work very much in tandem. I couldn’t have one without the other. I think that when you don’t have as much time in the day to get homework done, you consider it a lot more valuable when you do have time, so you put a lot of effort into working on homework.
 
Q: How do you decide which shows and characters to audition for?
A: In ninth grade, I auditioned for whatever I could and then picked and chose the ones I was really passionate about. That led me to continue with Spontaneous Generation and the musicals each year. As for characters, there’s a comprehensive list of them in the show packet, so I get a sense of who I think I would be the best at playing. I prefer to play characters that I identify with because it makes it that much more fun and simple to portray them. But, I’ve also played characters that are completely opposite from me, which has been a good challenge.
 
Q: What challenges have you faced with theatre?
A: When it comes to directing, there’s always the challenge of being a director and a friend, especially when you’re directing a group of your peers. With acting, it’s similar because you have to be directed by your peers. You have to find a balance in rehearsals and outside of rehearsals, and find the right words to say when you want to talk about certain issues.
 
Q: Have there been any shows at North that have changed the way you look at the world?
A: Working in improv theatre has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of thinking on your feet and how helpful it is in everyday situations. I’ve definitely learned to be more of a quick thinker because of it.
 
Q: What are your goals for theatre this year?
A: I’m currently directing Into the Woods with senior Sonia Joffe, so I want to get that done and have a polished final product. I’m also directing Spontaneous Generation, so I want that to be really good. And then, I really want to end my career with Theatre Ink by being in another show that I’m not directing. I wrote in my diary going into freshman year that I wanted to be in ten Theatre ink productions by the time I graduated. I have one more to go before I meet that goal, which is pretty exciting.
 
Q: Would you like to pursue theatre in your post-secondary plans?
A: Beyond high school, I actually don’t know if I want to continue theatre in the conventional way—being a performer and majoring in it in college. I think I would like to use theatre in other mediums, like applied theatre with community children’s organizations. I think I want to do something with children and theatre—a hybrid of those two.
 
Q: As a person, how have you benefited from theatre?
A: I think I have learned the importance of feedback. I’m very thankful that I have a better understanding of how to work with a big group of people to produce one final product. I like that I’ve learned a lot about the production process because that can be applied in a lot of other things in life.