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Mikaley Osley was “bit by the theater bug” when she was eight years old and saw a production of “The Sound of Music.” The girl playing Gretel was the same age and immediately Mikaley wanted to be on stage. After the play, Mikaley got an audition at a local theatre.
“I walked up on stage, recited my poem monotonously, and walked right off,” Mikaley said. “Needless to say, I didn’t get a role. However, I was told there were acting classes I could take.”
The classes helped Mikaley find a place for her loud voice and molded her personality. In the summer before seventh grade, she was cast as Binky Ruddich in “Revenge of the Space Pandas.”
“I was an eleven-year-old girl, playing a twelve-year-old boy genius,” she said. “It was a blast. I was officially hooked.”
When Mikaley was sixteen, she got to experience what theatre was like from a new perspective when her full-length play, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” was produced at The Shadow Theater in Denver.
“Despite all I knew about theater, there was—and still is—no greater feeling than hearing my words, characters, and story being played out on the stage,” Mikaley said. “I discovered I could move people in ways I’d never dreamed, making them laugh, cry, or gasp. It was then I knew I wanted to write plays for the rest of my life.”
Mikaley chose to attend Carthage because it is where she felt the most comfortable. “When I was looking for a college, I didn’t want to work my way through an established conservatory with rules like seniority and a general sense of close-mindedness,” she said. “Instead, I wanted to grow with the program itself, building it for future generations.”
Over the course of two-and-a-half years, Mikaley has managed three shows and is currently working on a fourth. She has also written two one-act plays that were nominated at The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, received a SURE grant to write a full-length play and has worked with many prestigious artists.
“It’s more than I ever could have hoped for and my journey at Carthage surprises me every day,” she said. “It makes me excited to continue discovering myself as an artist and as a person.”
“Prof. Neil Scharnick. I remember when I had made a connection from two plays I was reading in two different classes—one of which he was teaching—and I ran into his office, during a 10-minute break between classes, geeking out about this discovery I’d made. He listened to me, discussed it with me, and then recommended another play to read. Ten minutes were up and we continued about our day. He encourages learning outside the classroom and cares about what you have to say, even if it’s only for a short blip between classes.”
“Acting and Directing One-Acts. It was a new class that I dropped into on a whim and it was the best decision I made my first semester. It solidified my dream of being a playwright and opened so many doors for me because we performed one of my one-acts. That very same one-act then went on to be nominated for The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Without that class, I would not have had the opportunities or the friends I have now. We bonded while trying to create a new class and it wiped my worries away about being in a new place and starting a new life.”
“Play Production III: Stage Lighting. I went into that class knowing close to nothing about lighting design. I knew how to hang a light, but that was about it. I came out having successfully designed an entire song, which gave me the confidence to pursue lighting; something I had no interest in previously. Getting to that point was no easy task, there were times I had no clue what I was doing, but I was reminded how success comes from hard work, practice, and patience.”
Favorite moments at Carthage
“I was playing music before the ‘Biloxi Blues’ opening and ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ from ‘Mulan’ came on and every single cast and crew member jumped onstage and belted out all the words.”
Biggest surprise so far?
“Receiving the SURE grant to adapt a novel into a play. It was the first time a theatre student had been given that kind of a grant and I was amazed and honored. Through this grant, I was able to get a taste of my dream as a junior in college; to be a working playwright.”
Advice for other students considering your major
“Don’t be afraid to ask. If you want to try something new, then talk to a professor about it. They are more than willing to help students create new opportunities, but you have to work for it. If you want it, you can get it. Just ask.”