Why I Majored in Theatre

Miranda Mattlin '21

I came to Pomona planning to major in English and minor in theatre, and quickly swapped the two when I realized how much I loved the Theatre Department here. Pomona’s Theatre Department feels unique to me primarily for its intimacy as well as its broadness; it’s easy to build relationships with the faculty and staff in the department in addition to your fellow students, and the major requires you to gain exposure in a variety of different theatrical fields. I started off hoping to act, wound up taking classes in Dramaturgy and Playwriting earlier than planned and was thrilled to realize that was what I actually loved to do. The literary side of theatre combines everything I love about English with everything I love about theatre, and Pomona’s Theatre Department has provided me several opportunities for personal and professional growth in this field.

I submitted my final project in playwriting to our student theatre club, The Green Room, and it was chosen for production. Getting a full production of your original piece is basically what all professional playwrights aim for every day, and being able to achieve this in a collegiate setting is a rare gift. I believe producing your own piece is single the best way to learn how to edit, write and make theatre happen from the ground up. I then submitted an original 10-minute play to Pomona’s annual Ten-Minute Play Festival, and was selected for performance again. This time, with the department’s support, I felt much more comfortable putting together a creative team and eventually putting on a show. I also work in the costume shop as part of my financial aid, and the Theatre Department helped fund my unpaid theatre internship this summer!

Becoming a theatre major can feel scary, because there’s so much pressure at Pomona to choose the most academic-seeming or directly career-focused path, but if theatre is what you love to do and you’re ready to commit yourself to pursuing it, Pomona will prepare you to look at theatre both through an academic lens and a practical one. Some favorite courses include Theatre History, Dramaturgy and of course, Writing for Performance (my No. 1), but I also can’t wait to take classes in other areas of design and I firmly believe everyone should take an acting class at some point in their lives. Majoring in theatre can help train your emotional intelligence, work ethic, time management skills, methods of communication and ability to flourish on a team, all of which will be applicable to any job or life challenge wherever you go. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask the department for what you need. If it’s not offered, look into an independent study. If you see an unfilled position, put yourself up for it. If you’ve never tried something before but always wanted to, now is the perfect time. We’re small, but we’re passionate, and the faculty and staff as well as the close-knit community of majors are actively dedicated to helping every student succeed.

Hersheeta Suri '21

As someone who has been studying performing (acting and voice) since the age of 10, I have had a deep passion for theatre which only grew stronger when I came to Pomona.

Taking classes and having such amazing advisors such as Jessie Mills, Giovanni Ortega and Carolyn Ratteray not only open your eyes to the amount of opportunities there are in the performing arts world, but they actively work to present these opportunities to you.

After college I am contemplating on pursuing acting, whether that be actively auditioning in LA or going to grad school for performance. However, the skills I acquire through this degree will carry me through my alternative career path as I am also considering a degree in law. 

Tray Hammond ’22

Coming to Pomona, theatre was still a relatively new subject for me. My first show was in the spring of my junior year of high school. I only knew a few plays and musicals, and “knew” might honestly be somewhat of an overstatement. All I knew for certain was that I enjoyed acting. I love being able to share a story with an audience. It was really important to me, though, that I went to a college that would allow flexibility in the case that I found out that I did not enjoy theatre outside of my high school.

That’s one of many reasons why Pomona was—and still is—perfect for me. I honestly thought that I would be someone to declare his major on the last day of his sophomore year, but things change, I suppose. After taking two classes with Professor Giovanni Ortega, specifically Basic Acting and Musical Theatre Performance, I decided that prolonging my major declaration was pointless, for I knew it would be theatre, no matter what. That’s why I declared in April of my first year.

Since then, I have conducted theatre research in Japan and Singapore thanks to funding from the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). This experience began a two-year-long process for a one-man-show that will express such ideas as how I have come to embrace my Japanese identity within my multiracial identity in the United States as well as the appreciation I have for my family, especially my matriarchs for the sacrifices they made for me to, well, exist. This life-changing process would not have been made possible without the support of the Pomona College Theatre Department. I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have been granted, and I know that there will be many more in my future.