Name: Maura Kanter
Year: Class of 2017
Majors: History, Theatre Studies minor
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Theatre with the Barnstormers’
There are so many amazing clubs and organizations here at Hopkins. And though I would say my primary activity here on campus is acting in Barnstormers’ productions, I split my time between working in Undergraduate Admissions, giving tours for Blue Key Society, and dancing with Listen-Up Tap. I have been a performer all my life. I started tap dancing when I was two years old and have intermittently done so since then. I’ve acted in school and community theater productions since I was in first grade and I was a figure skater for five years in middle and high schools. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue to do theater and dance in college. I am so glad I changed my mind! I spend a lot of my time preparing for Barnstormers’ productions. The Barnstormers’ put on a total of 6 shows a year here on campus. We have two main-stage productions, the Fall play and the Spring musical. For these shows we hire a professional director. I had never worked with a professional director in any capacity before being cast in my first Barnstormers’ production, last year’s musical Carousel. The experience that the cast and crew gains from working with actual members of the professional theater community is invaluable. I was not expecting such a vibrant theater community at Hopkins. Though we aren’t the most prominent group on campus, we are always excited when new people join our casts and crews.
This year I have been lucky enough to have been cast in three of our Barnstormers’s productions this year, the Fall play, the Intersession play, and the Spring musical. In the Fall, we put up a production of Is He Dead?, a comedy by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, for our Fall play. It is a very entertaining show, very loosely based on the life of the French painter Jean-Francois Millet, filled with hoop skirts, cross-dressing, and mistaken identities. I played Madame Caron, one half of the comedy duo, The Mesdames, two fairly ridiculous women who are friends with Millet. To say I had fun being one of the Mesdames would be a gross understatement. My partner in crime was Kathleen Lewis. We decided to do our hair in such a fashion as to invoke thoughts of poodles and other dogs. Our eccentrics and bizarre synchronized lines were so much fun to play. The Intersession show was of a slightly different nature. We put up a production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs. I played Kate Jerome, the matriarch of Jewish household in Brooklyn in the 1930’s. The show is a somewhat intense Dramadey about this struggling household and their relationships. The more emotional moments are helpfully pocketed by Eugene’s, the protagonist, lines about his struggles with puberty. Our Spring musical this year is Company, by Stephen Sondheim. It is a fantastic musical all about a group of married couples and their mutual, and perpetually commitment-phobic, friend Bobby. I am playing Joanne, a very acerbic and drunk woman who is, needless to say, fairly unhappy by the way her life has turned out. I’m so excited to be able to play Joanne. She’s the kind of character I can just sink my teeth into. I don’t think there are any limits to her. I could do pretty much anything and it would be acceptable within the range of her possible character actions.
There are a lot of wonderful aspects to the theater community here at Hopkins. The Barnstormers’ are such a huge part of my Hopkins experience in general, and I have been so fortunate to be a part of this community. I love how we constantly strive for excellence, whether it be in our sets, costumes, lighting, sound, or acting. The people in the theater community are what really make it special. Audiences never realize what people are doing backstage, most of the time right before they step onstage. Often we are adjusting our costume pieces, hoop skirts always present a rather interesting challenge, or drinking as much water as we can before we go on stage. Someone almost always realizes that they forgot they had to use the restroom, and they don’t have another break until intermission. Quick changes are hysterical backstage, and the source of a great deal of our laughter backstage. There is often a group of cast and crew members interpretive dancing to the songs being performed on the stage. I always think the best parts of the show are happening backstage. I would not trade my theatrical experiences here at Hopkins for anything. I was not expecting to be involved with theater to this extent in college, but without it, my experience at Hopkins would be woefully lacking.