Theater student overcomes shyness

IUS Horizon

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IUS Theater Department’s Jenna Ryan, theater freshman, Will Gantt, theater junior, Josh Martin and Christina Biller act out a scene from Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.”

Will Gantt, theater junior, said he first received a taste of theater on a field trip as a child in Alabama.

“Our class went to see some play — I don’t even remember what it was — and they served ice cream in little tubs with wooden spoons.” Gantt said.  “I thought it was the coolest thing to eat ice cream and watch people play around.”

While in high school Gantt said he was really drawn to movies and thought he might try acting after seeing “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon in 1997.

His reaction to seeing the movie prompted him to take a drama class.

He said his experience with theater was exciting and helped him to be a little less shy so he entered the University of Louisville theater program.

One of the roles Gantt played while at the University of Louisville was Marcel Duchamp in “Interrogating the Nude” by Doug Wright, which was directed by James Tompkins, associate professor of theater at the University of Louisville.

“This required him to have a French accent and effete mannerisms, all of which he handled quite well,” Tompkins said. “It is interesting to note that his parents didn’t know who he was for the first 15 minutes of the show.”

Gantt said his nerves and shyness got the best of him, and, after two years, he decided to take a break from theater and college.

“I’ve always been painfully shy,” Gantt said.  “That’s part of the reason I got into theater, I thought it would help me come out of my shell a little.”

Gantt said even if he did not make it big in the theater he would still consider overcoming his shyness a great accomplishment.
“I wish I was even less shy,” Gantt said.

Gantt said he has hopes and dreams, but stardom is not necessarily one of them.

He said he thinks it would be too much for him to deal with.

“I don’t need to be a celebrity, but I would like to make a decent living acting,” Gantt said.

Will Gantt, theater junior, and Natalie Bowman, adjunct professor for the Theater Department, look over costumes. Bowman and Gantt collaborated for Gantt’s costume in “The Mousetrap.”

Gantt said he preferred theater to movies and really did not have any interest in the production side of theater.

“There are people who love the behind the scenes work that makes stage performances possible, and they are really good at it,” Gantt said. “I know when it’s best for me to stay out of the way.”

Gantt said one of his favorite actors is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who played a character in the movie “Flawless.”

“My dream role would be to do something completely not me,” Gantt said, “a role where I was some outrageous character who didn’t edit his thoughts or actions.”

Recently, Gantt performed in the IUS Theater Department’s production of “The Mousetrap” by Agatha Christie. Gantt said it was the first time he had performed a mystery, and he said it was challenging but fun.

Natalie Bowman, adjunct professor for the Theater Department, designed the costumes for “The Mousetrap” and collaborated with Gantt on incorporating his tie into the action.

“I like for costumes to be more than something that’s just worn,” Bowman said. “By using [Gantt’s] tie to attempt to strangle one of the other cast members, the tie becomes part of the character.”

Bowman said Gantt was excellent to work with and very willing to experiment with costumes.

Gantt auditioned for a part in the spring production of “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett.

Student actors have to also keep up their academic standing to be considered for roles.

“I’m keeping up pretty well, and I hope to be finished next fall,” Gantt said.