- Hanna Agar
As a lover of the fine arts, Alexis Gilkes ’18 could not be happier with her choice to major in music with an emphasis in music theatre at Carthage.
“Sometimes the community that surrounds [fine arts majors] doesn’t truly understand what it means to make a life in the arts,” Alexis says. “They worry about our financial situations and if we’ll really be able to support ourselves. Once inside this world, though, the support is imminent. Everyone will be there to love, guide, and support you the whole way. We’re in this together, and we’re in it for each other. If you love this life, take a chance on it. It’s waiting to love you back.”
After Carthage, Alexis plans to take some time to audition in Chicago.
“I found Carthage late in the game, but the second I met a few members of the voice and theatre faculty, I knew I was in the right place,” she says. “Everyone was so welcoming, and it was apparent they were invested in my next four years.”
“I plan to take some time auditioning in Chicago after graduation. As a performance major, it is important to me to grab some time on the stage right away in the real world. After that, we’ll see where things go. I could wind up in film or direction. This program and my colleagues have prepared me for a vast number of experiences.”
“Prof. Martin McClendon and Prof. Corinne Ness have both helped me reach new heights as a performer that I never even dreamed of. Two rehearsals into a run of a show with Marty, and I can find myself far more specific in my acting choices than ever before. Ten minutes into a lesson with Corinne, and I’m singing notes that I didn’t even know existed. They have both had a huge impact in my growth as a performer in Carthage Theatre.”
“If I had to pick, I would say my favorite class at Carthage so far has been Acting I: Fundamentals of Acting (For Majors and Minors) (THR 2110) with Prof. John Maclay. I grew so much as an artist and learned so much about myself and my craft in just one short semester. Every concept we discussed we put into action which allowed us to really find our footing as collegiate performers.”
“My toughest class at Carthage so far has been Acting II: Character and Scene Study (THR 3110) with Prof. Herschel Kruger. He pushed me and helped me to grow so much as a performer. In Acting II you have to know more than just who you are as an actor. You have to know who you are as a scene partner and how you work with every other actor. We explored shows with heavy messages that required an abundance of research and analysis. This class truly prepared me to work independently as an actor.”
“I haven’t had any internships, but I did travel to China with a company from the Music Theatre Program this summer. We toured a production of Seussical and a cabaret about finding love in your twenties. We traveled, performed, and worked alongside Chinese students pursuing music theatre for two weeks. We had a blast making new friends across the globe, experiencing a new culture, and practicing our craft all along the way.”
Opportunities at Carthage
“This summer I took a J-Term class in New York City. As a class we saw 15 shows (including Hamilton) and explored the city’s greatest art museums. I have also had the privilege of participating in several Carthage Theatre and Carthage Music Theatre productions. Some of my favorite shows to work on have been Afghanistan/Wisconsin, Urinetown, and Young Frankenstein.”
“I am a recipient of the A.W. and Joycelynn Clausen Scholarship. This scholarship has helped lift an enormous weight off of my shoulders. I am so fortunate to be able to focus my free time in the practice room and dance studio instead of worrying about how to reduce my own personal student debt.”
“I am a member of Alpha Psi Omega, our theatre fraternity here on campus. Our motto is ‘seek a life useful,’ and I am thrilled to be pursuing that each day alongside my colleagues. Our largest event is our Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS event each spring which I will play a large role in as the head of our Philanthropy Task Force. I can’t wait to make a difference with these talented artists this year!”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“Oaks lounges are some of the greatest places to make lifelong memories. We’re fortunate to have the theatre floor in the Oaks community because we always have a great place to hang right outside our doors. Whether we’re all crammed in choreographing a dance for theatre forum, loving every minute of the Flowers in the Attic movie saga, or having a girl’s night where we order pizza and talk about life, the lounge is where many of my favorite memories live.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“I grew up in Wisconsin, but if you think I was braced for the lake wind in February, you would be mistaken. Honestly though, the lake in winter is just as beautiful as the lake in summer. Campus is compact enough that if you bundle up to get to class, the weather isn’t so terrible, and you get to enjoy the view the whole way!”
What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?
“I think on some level, I always knew I would wind up in the field of fine arts. I bounced back and forth between a career in law or medicine for a while, but ultimately decided to follow my dreams. I think my 8-year-old self would be proud that I decided to break through the doubts and disbeliefs of others and take a chance on myself and my dreams.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Do it. Sometimes the community that surrounds us doesn’t truly understand what it means to make a life in the arts. They worry about our financial situations and if we’ll really be able to support ourselves. Once inside this world, though, the support is imminent. Everyone will be there to love, guide, and support you the whole way. We’re in this together, and we’re in it for each other. If you love this life, take a chance on it. It’s waiting to love you back.”