Name: Andre “A.T.” Thomas Hometown: Chicago, Illinois Major: Theater Minor: Architectural Studies &Psychology Activities: PEEPS, Wig & Candle, Theater SAB
Favorite aspect of Connecticut College: My favorite thing about Conn is the inviting atmosphere. From the minute I stepped onto campus a week before move-in day, everyone, including staff and faculty were helpful and welcoming, ensuring me that they would help me with whatever I needed.
Favorite memory at Connecticut College: One of my favorite memories at Conn is the day I auditioned for my first mainstage show, “Twelfth Night”. I was adamant about not auditioning for any show, but when I saw that it was a Shakespeare show, I couldn’t turn it down. After I finished reciting my monologue, the department chair suggested that I take an acting class after asking if I was already enrolled in one. Had it not been for that audition, I probably wouldn’t be a theater major.
Favorite activity in New London or the region: My favorite thing to do in New London is to go to the Antique Store in downtown New London. Each time I’ve gone there, I’ve spent at least an hour there looking through records, tchotchkes, clothes and shoes. I really go to the store to find old cameras, but I browse the rest of the store to talk myself out of going to look at the cameras to avoid buying one.
As the old adage goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I’ve always remembered this hackneyed phrase because one of my main goals in life is to have a career that allows me to do what I love so that I never get tired of it. Although I plan to go into performing arts, I have always been passionate about all things related to wellness and wellbeing. Having a position in the Office of Wellbeing and Health Promotion on campus allows me to work in a place with a mission to promote something I’m passionate about, both in my own and others’ lives. It’s work that has never actually felt like work.
Coming into my first semester at Conn, I had my mind set on majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience. I told all my friends, family members and high school teachers I would go on to medical school after graduating from Conn and study neuropsychology. That same semester, I took on the normal four-course load with Cell Biology, Chemistry, Toxins and The Nervous System (my First-Year Seminar) and a Chinese philosophy course. As we inched closer to winter break, however, I realized that I, in fact, did not want to major in Behavioral Neuroscience. I normally like to be certain about major things in my life, so being unsure about my major was more than unsettling.
I’ve always loved acting. In fact, I’ve been strolling across the stage since third grade. However, acting is the only branch of theater I delved into, or at least it was until this semester. As a theater major, one of the requirements is to fulfill four credit hours of practicum courses across three mainstage productions, which means you have to be a crew member or technician for three shows. I’ve always wanted to work in the behind-the-scenes world of a production, mainly because I’m a strong believer that you’re never too experienced to learn. So, I figured I should start as soon as possible. I was offered not only the chance to be sound board operator, but to also serve as sound designer for the theater department’s first mainstage production of the academic year, “Uncommon Women and Others” by Wendy Wasserstein, a play set in the wake of second-wave feminism. To be honest, I was initially quite hesitant due to my lack of knowledge around my exact responsibility, but I accepted the role anyway.
Many of our staff and faculty members live close to school, so anytime I’m off campus, I think about the possibility of running into a professor or other employee. It isn’t a bad occurrence, but it’s somewhat cringey to think about what to say to a professor outside of the classroom or context of a class. Even if it’s someone you admire or are very familiar with, there’s always a moment of silence where neither the student nor the adult knows quite what to say. However, this isn’t always the case. I saw a professor outside of the classroom and instead of it being awkward, it was invigorating. I saw him on a stage, in a costume, transformed into one of the most well-known gods of Greek literature: Zeus. Kinda cool, right?
The spring semester of my first year, I took a course called Building Culture. A course cross-listed in both the art history and architectural studies departments, it focused on the history of various art movements, how they were introduced by the social climate, and how they influenced architecture. One day in class we focused on modern architecture and Phillip Johnson, a renowned architect, for his Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Last weekend, I got to travel to the Glass House with the Department of Architectural Studies for an in-depth tour. Here are some of best moments and features I was able to capture!
In the past two weeks, I’ve started the majority of my interactions with people by saying, “Hey, I’m doing a shoot for the Communications Office, would you mind if I took some pictures of you *insert activity*?” Each time, I hoped that what started off as a semi-awkward interaction between a group of strangers would result in pictures that showcased students using some of the most charming spaces on campus.
Before coming to Conn, my mind was already set on a major. I had told all of my family and friends that I was going to major in behavioral neuroscience. There was no doubt in my mind that was the degree I wanted to pursue. Of course, I had other interests like acting, photography and writing, but I never considered pursuing any one of them as a major or minor.
When you picture a coach, you might picture a one like Sue Sylvester from the TV show “Glee,” Jimmy Dugan from “A League of Their Own,” or even a coach you’ve once had. I think of one of Conn’s newest members to the Camel Athletics family, women’s basketball coach Jackie Smith. Her kindness toward everyone she meets, dedication to the success and growth of the team, and gumption to showcase the team’s talent has helped the team improve both on and off the court. I interviewed Jackie to learn more about her background, love for basketball and dreams for her team.
It’s opening night. The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., while the team and I arrived in the theater at 6 p.m. The cast warmed up then changed into costume while Morgan, Declan and I placed furniture, decor and did checks for lights and sound. As the hour approached, people began to arrive and wait in the lobby. Around 7 p.m., Morgan and I started pacing, anxiously floating between the lobby, theater space and the “hobbit hole”, a room in which the actors stay before the show.
After getting back to campus from winter break, there was one major thing on my to-do list: hold auditions. The thought of auditions didn’t stir up any anxiety, but the thought of having to select a cast from a group of amazingly talented students did. For about three hours, my team and I scribbled notes on random pieces of paper as students traipsed in and out of the room with their monologues. Halfway through the evening, I got the same feeling I get during a class when I’m the only student not taking notes. I realized I was writing without a clue about what I was supposed to be writing down. I was just scribbling because that’s what I’m supposed to do, right?
The first thing I do each morning is check my e-mails. Oddly enough, I get a feeling of anxiety combined with eagerness as my mail app refreshes with 10-20 new emails each morning from professors, school announcements, Amazon, and other retailers I don’t even remember subscribing to. This particular morning, one of my professors sent our class an email saying he was canceling class for the day, which granted me a class-free Thursday morning. My only class for that day was at 2:45 p.m., and I could not have been happier.
I came from a high school with a lot of amazing students. Among them were some extremely talented artists who, in my opinion, were ahead of their time. Many of these artists were actors from our theater department, a department I called home and which encouraged my passion for acting. However, I also found myself pulling away from its competitive nature. I’ve never been a competitive person, and have never cared to only audition for principal roles or pursued a show just to say I was a part of it. I’m also a person who likes to learn from other people, grow, and at some point be in a position to teach or mentor others. I felt there wasn’t much space for me or many others to do that, and I knew it wasn’t quite the place for me. I’ll admit that one of the main reasons I didn’t think I would major in theater or be involved in the department in any way when I arrived at Conn was because of my assumption that all theater departments are competitive or unwelcoming. I was worried that I wouldn’t have a shot at being in a show and that those active in the department wouldn’t concern themselves with encouraging or recruiting others to join the department.
Anyone who knows me knows I have never really been a cat lover. Cats are incredibly unpredictable and more aloof than dogs. I’m also highly allergic to them, and that basically has given me the only reason I needed to never be near them. Last weekend, however, I was provided with the opportunity to catsit for my faculty adviser, Alison Andersen, a professor in the theater department.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be taking another art class—especially not in college. I took my first one in third grade, and I remember two things about it: struggling with every assignment and learning that I never shook the inability to color (or paint, for that matter) inside any kind of line. After that experience, I pledged to my 8-year-old self that I would avoid every art class for as long as possible.
One of the most essential parts of visiting a college campus is the tour. Most parents and prospective students that visit a school might not remember what year the college was founded or how many clubs and organizations exist there, but may remember their tour guide and whether the tour was enjoyable or not. The latter is the exact reason I wanted to be a tour guide at Conn. I know the impact a tour guide can have on a student’s college decision (whether it be applying or choosing) and I hope to leave a positive mark on the families, especially the students, I encounter. Fortunately enough, I was hired as a tour guide in the spring semester my first year at Conn. It became an immensely enjoyable routine to walk to Horizon House (where the Office of Admission is housed) each week to greet families and walk them around our beautiful campus for about an hour.