IN THIS WEEK’S “Faces of ITS” profile, meet Julia Lanman, a Thespian junior from Troupe 7185 at Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Julia Lanman

Julia Lanman

How has theatre impacted your life?
Theatre has actively been a part of my life since I was 6 years old. I went to a little community theatre and planted my roots there. Now I’m nearing my senior year of high school and am working at the same theatre I grew up in. It’s hard to imagine my life without theatre seeing as it has taught me almost everything I know. Theatre plays the role of a wise mother who can comfort you, push you past your limits, teach you new things, and reassure you to keep going. Theatre gives me an adrenaline rush that is addicting. It’s strange; you get a new kind of rush with every character you play. It’s beautiful.

What is one lesson you’ve learned from theatre?
The lesson I’ve learned from theatre is the ability to communicate. Theatre helped me improve when it comes to sharing my ideas, feelings, or simply having a conversation with someone. This is the most important lesson theatre has taught me so far because my life revolves around communication, and this lesson extends past theatre. Theatre is there to start a conversation and has helped me come to many realizations I wouldn’t have had without the helping hand theatre extended to me. Theatre taught me that communicating my ideas can be hard, but if you’re passionate and willing to learn, it gets easier and easier.

What has been your favorite theatre experience so far?
One of my favorite theatre experiences is one of my most recent endeavors. I’m in an IB theatre class, and in November we got the chance to put on a production of When We Were Young and Unafraid by Sarah Treem. The entire production was run by students, which was a wonderful thing to be part of and something I wish more high schools would take a chance on. There are only five characters in the play. As a small cast, we all had to take on the job of motivating one another. I played Agnes, a woman in her 50s who runs a small B&B that is also a safe house for abused women in the ’70s. This was one of my favorite theatre experiences because the role was incredibly challenging for me, particularly playing a 50-year-old woman. I had to make many choices based on my view of Agnes, from my body language to the way I interacted with others. The moments Sarah Treem creates as an author are natural, busy, and strategically planned. I wanted to do this part justice, so I began to learn the Meisner Technique and how to live fully present in the moment with the help of a former University of Central Oklahoma student I trusted to teach me properly and safely. I also learned the emotional benefits of tapping in and out of a scene. This production, which consumed my thoughts for five months, taught me so much, gave me beautiful connections with a talented cast, and reminded me why I love theatre.

Who is your theatre hero?
My theatre hero is Amanda Palmer. Palmer is a performance artist and lead singer of The Dresden Dolls. She is married to Neil Gaiman (my favorite author!) and, at 44 years old, is still touring, making, and sharing her art. Palmer has such a unique and truthful outlook on art and sharing your art with people (including other artists). One of my favorite quotes from Palmer, pulled from her book The Art of Asking, is “Ask any great actor: Sometimes the mask is the tool that lets you get at the truth.” Palmer talks a lot about vulnerability. As a performance artist, she understands putting yourself out there and fearing the worst, but she also ultimately says that’s what art is. Art is vulnerability. Palmer has a very positive but realistic outlook on life and art that I admire, and I feel she has advice for any worries I could ever have. She has fearlessly made art all her life and has always made it for the joy and curiosity of other humans who may be struggling. She loves fearlessly, makes art fearlessly, stands up for what she believes in fearlessly, and fearlessly shares all this with the world.

What theatrical character or show best describes your life?
The theatrical show that best describes my life is Peter Pan. I’ve enjoyed Peter Pan since I was little. As I grew up watching it, I continued to gain new perspectives. Wendy’s character very accurately represents how I felt growing up. I wasn’t afraid to have fun, but from a very young age, I always thought about the responsibilities I held. I have always loved the idea that Peter Pan is played by a woman. It has been the tradition since the show opened, and it represented so much to me as a young girl. I think the real reason I feel such a link to Peter Pan is that I can relate to something in every character, which is hard for me to say about any other show. It’s a show about the tribulations of growing up, enjoying yourself, and learning to love, which are all things I choose to focus on and am passionate about in my own life.

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