Franklin Bennett, TMU contributor and freshman at Northwestern University

Hello TheaterMania U Readers! My name is Franklin 'Frankie' Bennett, and I am a freshman theater major at Northwestern University. I am beyond excited to get the ball rolling and talk about the amazing art form that we all love. So let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start, right?).

I'm a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and with a mountain for a backyard, I love to rock climb. I'm also a bit of a bookworm (I just started reading The Help…love it!). That being said, however, it's obvious what my real passion is: the stage! Back home, I had the extreme joy of being a member of arts organizations like the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale and the Fine Arts Center Youth Repertory Theatre, and theater and performing became my life.

So you may be asking, "What is this blog gonna talk about??" Well, the phrase "Go Big or Go Home" has become a motto I live by. A choreographer that I had with the Children's Chorale used the expression to remind us to commit to choices as performers, and I took it to heart. (This choreographer has also become a really good friend and mentor--and is a Northwestern alum!) After years of having fun and enjoying performing, I realized that whether I'm on or off stage, I have a passion for the performing arts, so it made sense to pursue a degree in theater. So what does a boy from Colorado Springs do when he wants this to happen? He says goodbye to the stellar theater community he grew up with and says hello to college in Evanston!

Fast forward to now and I'm a thousand miles away from home and embracing my new college theater community at NU. As a theater major, naturally I walked in thinking "I'm an actor, I'm an actor, I'm an actor." Here's where the blog kicks in: we all have made journeys, whether it be from one home to another or realizing that being passionate about something means trying a new part of it. In my blog, I'm going to talk about and explore the differences between small town Colorado and big city Chicago and about the variety of new experiences that come from living next to one of the most vibrant theater cities in the nation.

Already in my few months in college, I've gotten to try my hand at some really exciting and new opportunities. It all started when I was asked to stage manage a production of Recent Tragic Events, a dramedy about free will and chance revolving around the 9/11 attacks, for Spectrum Theatre Company, one of the many student theater groups on campus. (For those of you not at Northwestern, there are at least nine different groups who manage productions for student theater.) Recent Tragic Events was one of the most amazing theater experiences I had this past year as I got to know more of the theater community and found my new guilty pleasure in theater: stage managing!

I also just finished a production of Soldierboy this past weekend, which tells the story of a soldier returning to his family after WWII and his struggles with adjusting to coming home and forming a relationship with his six-year-old son, played by yours truly. It was an amazing experience to work on such a powerful story, and I'm leaving that show with such great energy for my next project, assistant stage managing Northwestern University's Theatre and Interpretation Center's production of Spring Awakening. It just goes to show you that you can indeed wear many, many hats in the world of theater, and honestly, I love it!

So here we are! Like I said, I am so excited to get to share my experiences with you and provide some tips and tricks along the way so you can get the most out of your college theater life. Keep reading each week to see where my theatrical journey takes me and what new and exciting things might happen to this small town boy in the Windy City!