Life is a theater, but for all aspiring actors, theater itself becomes a way of life. For us non-theater types who gaze upon the big screen or watch a play debut on Broadway, acting seems like an entirely foreign concept. And Hollywood? An alien planet.
What most of us fail to remember is that that while acting can be very glamorous, it is also a learned trade just like architecture or psychology. Some actors may shoot straight to stardom, but the most determined ones often begin their careers in college.
Zach Kronisch, a freshman and double major in theater and English, hopes that his time at Bucknell’s well-regarded theater program will give him the direction he needs to succeed in this competitive field.
“My program is full of just wonderful people,” Kronisch said. “And the professors are amazing at what they do. They aren’t just teachers; they are friends.”
Kronisch’s love for acting began in middle school when he haphazardly auditioned for a role in his school’s production of “Phantom Toll Booth”; to his surprise, he was cast as the lead. “I stepped on the stage and I fell in love,” he added.
He continued to pursue acting in high school before learning about Bucknell’s Arts Merit Scholarship for Theater. Unlike his first audition back in middle school, there was no hesitation. It payed off, and Kronisch was granted the scholarship. Now with a semester of theater classes out of the way, Kronisch has become accustomed to the odd life of a theater major.
When dealing with such a creative craft, it came as no surprise to him that most of his major classes would be, shall we say, unconventional. His Acting 1 class, for instance, would often have yoga mats on the floor, which each student would take. After meditation, they would play numerous improvisational games.
“In the ‘yes game’, we would go around the room and say something to the person next to us,” Kronisch explained. “That person would have to answer yes, no matter what. All of the games we played were roundabout ways of teaching us some really fundamental acting lessons. ‘Yes game’ was really about accepting what you partner on stage is saying no matter what, because in improv if you block out the other person, the skit fails.”
Outside the classroom, theater majors are generally social creatures, and Kronisch believes that in this matter, his college experience is not any different than those studying another field. However Kronisch, who has nothing but kind words for his fellow theater majors, does acknowledge the age-old stigmas that are often associated with theater.
“There have been very, very uneducated people who have said to me: ‘isn’t a theater major for gay people?’ But you’ll always have that ignoramus, village idiot who has no idea what he is talking about,” Kronisch said.
He had always disregarded the stereotypical assumptions made about theater majors and was glad that his time at Bucknell so far has strengthened this resolve.
“Theater majors in my experience are fun and engaging, and the improv work we do makes us funny by default,” Kronish said. “You might think that the competitive atmosphere would hinder this, but these people are some of the most fun people I’ve ever met.”
While Kronisch finds his major classes invigorating and his classmates wonderful, there is no denying that the time commitment expected of him can be overwhelming. However, he believes the heavy workload is worth all the effort.
Between the experiences he will gain from constant productions and insights from his professors, he knows that he will graduate with a keen sense of the industry and a leg up on his competition.
“My teachers are excellent at giving advice, like the importance of auditioning, and have really reassured me that there is work to be found after school,” Kronisch said.
As of now, Kronisch is working hard toward improving his acting skills and unlike most disillusioned students, isn’t afraid to dream big: he plans to work in television after he graduates.
Ambitious as he may be, he has no delusions of grandeur; Kronisch knows full well the responsibilities that lie before him and the improbabilities that he must overcome in order to succeed. “I believe that if you want to do something, you should go for it. For me, that thing is acting and even though it may be hard, so far I’m loving every minute of it.”