All the world’s a stage: Senior to pursue acting career after high school

Shannon Keyser

As the lights dim and the curtain closes, applause breaks out from around the theater, and one person stands, followed by another until the rest of the auditorium is in a standing ovation. For an actor, this is the ideal reaction from an audience. But it’s not easy to get. An actor must shed their identity and take on that of a stranger. Every step and facial twitch must match that of the character they portray. Every word must be interpreted to best convey the emotion of the moment. While some may find this too difficult and shy away from the limelight, senior Evan Pope revels in it.

“Theatre is what I want to do with my life,” Evan said. “People who aren’t in theatre see it as a bunch of nerdy kids getting together and putting on a show, but it’s more than that. It’s an experience, and you develop characters and a family.”

While performing, Evan plays to the audience well and earns their trust as he takes them on a journey of suspended disbelief.

“I’ve never been in a show where the audience doesn’t love Evan,” theatre teacher Jacob Justice said. “He handles emotions well and has the ability to allow people to relate to his style of acting.”

Evan hopes to enter the film industry after college and follow in the footsteps of some of his idols.

“I’d want to be either a voice actor in a Pixar movie because I absolutely love those movies or one of the leading roles in a Marvel movie,” Evan said. “A lot of the actors who are in that genre are big inspirations for me, so I’d love to be a part of that and be an inspiration to the next generation of actors that come along.”

Though he would prefer film, Evan does not discount the idea of partaking in live performances.

“My biggest dream is to pursue film,” Evan said. “I want to pursue film acting as a career after high school, but if I get an opportunity to be in a stage performance in a community theatre or even on Broadway, I would love to be a part of any performance.”

Evan’s mother, Stephanie Pope, supports him going after his dreams and are excited to see what he accomplishes.

“As far as him wanting to pursue acting as a career, I would have to say that I am excited and want to encourage him,” Pope said. “I want him to learn as much as he can but I also want him to seize any opportunity that presents itself. It will be a challenging but thrilling journey to see how it all pans out.”

Evan first began acting his freshman year after taking Theatre I and receiving positive feedback from Justice.

“He was in the first show that I directed here, which was The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg,” Justice said. “He had a part that didn’t have a lot of lines, but he jumped in and worked hard.”

After the play, Evan decided to try out for the spring musical Into the Woods.

“I was pleasantly surprised when Evan wanted to try out for the musical,” Pope said. “The minute he got in the car, he said he wanted to try out. I was excited for him [and] I told him to go for it.”

However, as it was Evan’s first musical, he tried not to expect a major role.

“I wanted him to be realistic, too,” Pope said. “I didn’t want him to get his hopes up too high because he was a freshman. He was going up against seniors who had been performing for much longer and had more experience.”

Despite the odds against him, Evan ended up getting the role of Jack in the musical and kicked off his acting obsession. Over his four years of acting in various performances, Evan has performed in different genres, and while he enjoys all of them, he does have his favorites.

“I prefer comedies,” Evan said. “I like making audiences laugh, but I also really like dramas in both aspects, performing and viewing, just because it allows the audience to emotionally connect to the characters. Comedies I feel like you can emotionally connect with somebody, but it’s not to the depth of a drama.”

Evan has played a wide variety of roles, and he particularly likes dynamic characters.

“I like playing a character with more than one side,” Evan said. “I like exploring different pathways for a character. If it’s a very one-dimensional character, I’m not really interested in that.”

Evan’s two favorite roles were Peter Pan from Peter and the Starcatcher and Sweaty Eddie from Sister Act. However, he likes them for different reasons.

“Peter Pan was really fun because I got to be energetic and active on stage,” Evan said. “Sweaty Eddie was fun because it was a challenging role for me because I had to do my first stage kiss and I had to dance on stage for multiple songs.”

Evan has expanded his range, and the types of roles he plays has evolved over the years.

“When he first got here, he was playing more of the boy or the son roles,” Justice said. “Now he’s becoming older and more mature, so he’s more suited for the leading man role.”

The more time that has passed, the more Evan has honed his acting abilities.

“It’s been such an amazing journey seeing how his skills have improved and changed,” Pope said. “He applies what he learns and gets better and better. I am so proud of how far he’s come in Viking theater.”

When Evan began acting, it was difficult for him to stay in character when someone said something humorous.

“If something was even remotely funny to me, it was very hard for me not to break character,” Evan said. “Over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve grown in the sense of I can keep a character more consistently.”

Although he has improved at not breaking character, comedies can still me a challenge.

“A big challenge for me is trying to stay genuine to a character, especially in a comedy,” Evan said. “Sometimes, comedies can go out of control with silliness, but you still have to stay true and consistent with your character. If you do something that’s out of character but you think would be funny, it really isn’t.”

Evan not only memorizes his lines but learns and understands the play as a whole to help it come across as a cohesive piece.

“He’s a kid that knows every line of the show,” Justice said. “He memorizes the whole show, not just his part, and really wants to get it right.”

Because of the consistent hard work Evan puts into practicing for a performance, he is reliably ready to perform despite the pre-show stress.

“I don’t have to worry about Evan when it comes to showtime,” Justice said. “I know he’s gonna have his lines memorized, I know he’s going to know his stuff, and that’s a good thing for all of us.”

For Evan, acting is more than just portraying a character on stage, it’s a life calling.

“I love acting because it allows me to have an emotional connection with the audience,” Evan said. “Each role allows me to experience something new and face a creative challenge.”