Zach Kauffer, TMU contributor and junior at USC

Let's start with the basics, shall we? My name is Zach Kaufer. I have been an avid theatergoer for 14 years and actively working in theater since I was nine years old. That's quite a long time. Since the beginning, I've grown nerdier and nerdier in regard to the obscure references I make in daily conversation. For example, today I was walking to the food court to get some lunch when a friend stopped me to chat. She asked where I was headed, and jokingly said that I shouldn't eat my food too quickly. In turn I responded, "Well, you know, one should always eat muffins quite quickly to avoid getting crumbs on one's shirtsleeves."

As you may or may not know, this is a quote from Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, one of my favorite plays. For those readers who understand why the quote is funny, you can relate to the confusion I felt when I noticed the bewilderment on her face as she uttered a short goodbye and took off down the street.

This incident got me thinking about some questions that have been on my mind for a few years. Why do we insist on spending our lives reading play after play and investing energy in learning about playwrights who are long gone? Why is it that I'd rather spend my nights reading Shaw rather than going to a club or party? Is it because we're lonely, anti-social sadists? I sure hope not! I pay an obscene amount of money every year to learn how to breathe into my back and relate to characters far removed from myself. For me, it's about the constant pursuit of that elusive feeling you get right before the lights come up or the overture begins. It's the flutter of my heart that happens as I hear my entrance cue. It's that simple, intangible high that comes from sitting in a darkened theater with a playbill on my lap, waiting for a story to unfold before me.

I think Glenn Close said it best. "Going to the theater should rearrange your molecules." It's a truth that has become the basis of my whole life. When I see theater, I look for those moments, those connections, those relationships that rearrange molecules, and I hope to share even the tiniest atom of that with you all.

"The play's the thing..."

See? That's Hamlet. What a nerd.