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Humans of RC: Her Name in Lights, Tess Weidenkopf

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Written by Shamira James

Tess Weidenkopf is a freshman at RC. She’s double majoring in Theater and Chemistry and is just one of the few talented faces that will be making her dramatic debut in Olin Hall from Nov. 14-17 when Theatre RC performs Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”.

“I read the play in high school and didn’t like it that much. I took a directing class and had to do a really in-depth study of it, and I just found it kind of boring and didn’t really get the meaning of it. But looking at it from it from an acting point of view, I got to understand how these characters, even though they’re so simple, there is a beauty in that simplicity. So as far as prepping went, it was nerve wracking. You have to prepare days in advance and get familiar with the character you want. You have to start developing the character in your head just to show that you relate to this character. So you go on and do the usual cold readings of scenes then you wait for callbacks. In high school callbacks were never a definite thing, it was a ‘come back and we’ll see what happens’ but here they are a lot more definite, so getting one was a big deal for me because I didn’t even think I would get a part. In high school theater, there were smaller and more tight knit groups, meaning you always knew who was going to audition but here there were so many people auditioning. It was a lot more intimidating than I was prepared for. I wasn’t hesitant to get involved because I’m not a very hesitant person, but seeing all these other talented people was a bit of a shock for me.

“My mom’s side is all very musically driven. They used to live in New York so my grandfather would take the train to the city and see all these plays. He got to see all these classic shows with the original cast. He got to see Evita, Annie and even got to see Mandy Patinkin which I still think is amazing. Growing up she would always play music from Les Mis and that was the first musical I had memorized at the age of four, then Cats at nine, then Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at 12.

“Then my dad was really into hockey.  It was his favorite sport and he wanted all of his kids to share that passion with him. So my four brothers and I all played and that was my original passion. I got into it because I learned how to ice skate when I was seven, and everything seems to fall into place. But I started to lean towards theater and drama and my parents always pushed me to follow my dreams and go with my heart. So now here at Roanoke I can do both: I play with the club hockey team and I’m doing drama in Olin, it’s a dream!

“My parents brought me up on the idea that that no one was ever going to hand you something. I think that’s a silly way to go through life. If you want something you have to go out and get it and that means hard work. That shouldn’t drive people away but instead give them more drive and passion to do the things they want to do. That was how I came into my freshman year. I knew that no one was going to come up to me and beg me to do something, I had to count on my own passion to go out and do these things. People are very hesitant to go out and explore and get involved, but I think as long as you know there are opportunities out there for you as long as you have ambition and drive, you can do anything.”