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Jack-of-All-Trades and Master of Some: An Introduction

Carnegie Mellon sophomore Thomas Constantine Moore shares his interests and plans for his TMU column. logo

Thomas Constantine Moore, TMU contributor and sophomore at Carnegie Mellon

Hello! And welcome to my Spring 2012 TMU column. My name is Thomas Constantine Moore, and I'm a sophomore Acting major at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. I'm also interested in politics, philosophy, graphic novels, Dungeons & Dragons, and the modern Greek language.

I enjoy knowing things, learning things, and discussing, debating, writing and thinking about things. But most of all, I enjoy storytelling: the drama, humor, conflict and resolution of a great story. That's what made me fall in love with acting when, at age 6, I played Foxy Loxy in a musical adaptation of The Sky is Falling. It's why I've been driven to write plays for the past few years, why I'm a sucker for a good doomed romance or an epic space-opera, and why I'm fascinated by all the collaborative cogs of theater -- which has led me to try my hand at stage management, set design, and directing over the years.

Last summer I took a break from acting and instead produced and directed two short plays I'd written. Rather than submit my plays to the few theaters that accept unsolicited manuscripts, I decided to rent a space using funds from my summer day-job. With the addition of one designer and five actors, we called ourselves "One Summer Theater Company," in recognition of its anticipated lifespan. We rehearsed for six weeks in my garage and performed both plays back-to-back over a two-day run at local theater SecondStory Repertory.

Though one play took place on a windswept cliff and the other in a basement, SecondStory's set for their production of Tartuffe worked surprisingly well for both. It was by no means a glamorous set-up, but the plays were well-received and our company ended up making a profit. This experience confirmed my belief that we as artists cannot wait for opportunities to come to us--we must be prepared to create them for ourselves. To that end, it behooves us to be as well-rounded as possible so that we can meet any challenge with the proper resources. And there's nothing like collaborating with other young adults independent of higher authority to both test what you do know and show you what you don't.

That's why my column is going to focus mainly on what we can learn from becoming "jack-of-all-trades" artists, how we interact with theater's multifarious elements and aspects, and how we choose to define our careers. They say to write what you know, so I'll be drawing mostly on my own experience of finding my way in theater through technique, ethics, process, and performance. I'll certainly be keeping my discussions as open-minded as I can; it's my intention that they be thought provoking--not didactic. Nonetheless, I'm sure my own opinions will be apparent. Knowing that, I'd just like to preface them by re-stating that I'm a student. I'm in school to learn about theater, and I'm writing this column in the hope that it will give me an opportunity to translate some of what I'm learning into words and to hear your responses. Whether you agree or disagree or wish to qualify or clarify something I've said, please join the discussion.

Thank you for reading this, and here's a question to get us started: What's a story (historical, personal, fairytale, myth, etc.) that you'd like to see adapted into a play, movie, or TV show? And why? If you have time and you're feeling generous, enter them into the comment field below!


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