By Kaylee Lindenmuth
Meghan Artley has been involved in theater since 2011 when she performed in the ensemble for Shenandoah Valley High School’s production of “Chicago” in seventh grade.
“The reason that I started theater in seventh grade was because I liked to sing. My mom started getting me singing lessons when I was five because she said I never stopped singing,” said Artley, a junior education major. “That’s why I originally started theater, but now I do it because it feels like home. I feel that theater shows all parts of the world. There’s this quote that says, ‘people don’t come to the theater to see you, they go to see them.'”
“I think that everything in my life, I’ve gotten through, happy times and bad times, through theater,” Artley added.
At KU, Artley has been involved in Actors Creating Theater, or ACT, since her freshman year, performing in Spring Awakening in February 2017.
“Coming to college, I didn’t know there was a theater club. I knew there wasn’t a theater program, but I didn’t know there was a theater club until the involvement fair,” Artley said.
Last February, Artley earned a lead role, playing Elle Woods in ACT’s production of “Legally Blonde,” and this month, she played the role of Rizzo in “Grease.”
In further describing the differences between her experiences in Shenandoah and Kutztown, Artley noted that the Shenandoah Valley Drama Club, or SVDC, is largely structured by adult involvement, while ACT is run almost entirely by students.
“At home, there are so many adults on the team that really make the show come together, whereas at school, we’re completely student run except for our adviser, but she’s there for our support. She’s not at rehearsal directing it,” said Artley. “We have complete student directors. So that’s different when you’re all students trying to put on a show, but I think that makes it more rewarding, because, on opening night, you know that, as a club, we all did this together.”
“Also, because we don’t have a theater major here, we all are just educated through our own ways,” added Artley. “We’re still a close-knit group like the drama club was at home.”
Artley credited SVDC as a key learning experience and support throughout high school.
“I feel like I learned so much from our drama club because we were close-knit, and because, when you have people who truly care about you, it pushes you forward, and I had that all throughout high school, which was amazing, just from the drama club,” said Artley.
Noting theatrical lessons, Artley learned from her two SVDC directors and was able to carry over into ACT.
“Dane (Rooney, former SVDC director) always taught me character things and how to have a character body and things like that, and so much more,” said Artley. “Sarah Yorke, when she came in, she taught us a lot of technical techniques that she got from college, which was really great, and I brought a lot of them to our club now.”
“I think that things that I learned from both of them and everyone else who was always on the creative team at drama really pushed me forward to be a better actress and to know how to put a show together,” said Artley. “[Dane] taught me a lot of the behind-the-scenes things that you need to get a show together.”
“I’m glad that I had the experiences I had at Shenandoah so that I could continue doing what I love in college,” Artley added.
ACT performs two plays and a musical a year with between 30 and 60 students involved, Artley said.
“We’re all very involved. We all love theater, but we get a lot of people that have never done theater before college, which is really exciting because it shows you can do whatever you want in college, which is great,” added Artley.