Arts and Entertainment Editor
Just weeks into their senior year, seniors in the theater and dance department are looking toward their final bow.
Acting student Cassidy Doherty is already starting to reflect on her time at Keene State College. When asked to describe her feelings going into the year in one word, Doherty said “nostalgic.”
“I’ve done so many things the past four years, and just thinking back on it all just makes me relive those memories and kind of be like, ‘Woah, this is my last time doing this, and my last time doing that,’” Doherty said.
After seeing Keene State theater and dance’s production of “Company” as a senior in high school, Doherty knew she wanted to be part of the program. “I really liked how collaborative it was and how much they were all involved,” Doherty said.
Now, four years later, Doherty is preparing to graduate with a degree in acting and psychology. Doherty added a psychology major after learning more about how theater can be a means of therapy for those with mental illnesses.
“I was thinking of potentially opening up my own business for people with mental illness, helping them through theatre because there’s been a lot of studies that have shown that… that’s helped,” Doherty said. “People think it’s like a really weird pairing, but honestly, it goes really well together, like [with] drama therapy and stuff like that.”
This year, Doherty is going to be in the upcoming production of “Urinetown,” playing the show’s central love interest Hope Cladwell. Additionally, Doherty is the president of KSC’s theater and dance honor society, Alpha Psi Omega. Doherty is hoping to organize fundraisers for the honor society to bring back workshops and other events that were put on hold due to COVID-19.
“I want to start again, we haven’t done it in a few years, 24-hour plays, which is creating and performing [a play] hopefully in 24 hours. Different fundraisers with restaurants, bake sales, candy grams, just things like that,” Doherty said.
During her final year at KSC, Doherty is hoping to generate opportunities for herself that will help her land a job post-graduation. “Something that I would hope to accomplish is just opening the door for myself,” Doherty said. “I want to be able to start making connections and really establishing a solid ground for myself when I leave here.”
Like Doherty, senior Jaden Rogers has a psychology pairing with his directing specialization. Rogers said he uses psychology as a creative lens, both in his acting and directing. “Something I really pride myself on is my ability to communicate,” Rogers said. “I knew I wanted to incorporate it. But I didn’t realize that [psychology] was so influential in my theater process until I got here.”
Rogers said his interest in theater started after seeing a local production of “The Wizard of Oz” in the fourth grade. That interest only grew throughout middle and high school until Rogers realized he could pursue it as a career in college and beyond.
“I realized there’s something in this for me in college, I can do something like this,” Rogers said. “I thought… I might be able to do something with this.”
On a more personal level, Rogers hopes to devote more time to self-care as he rounds out his time at Keene State. “I think that it’s really easy to just forget about taking care of yourself,” Rogers said. “It’s really easy to just get lost in the show, get lost in school, I’m taking five courses, you know… [it’s] really easy to just kind of get lost in that.”
As live performances are starting for the year, Rogers said there is a sense of anxiety surrounding a potential rise in COVID cases among the theater and dance department. If the college sees a rise in COVID cases, the live productions risk being shut down or lose the ability to have an in-person audience.
“It’s something I’ve noticed where I really want this community to stand together and just really be smart about what we’re doing, because it affects other people. When stuff spreads, things get shut down,” Rogers said.
Regardless, Rogers is looking forward to what the year has in store for him, both as an actor and a director. This semester, Rogers will be starring in “Urinetown” as the show’s villain Caldwell Cladwell.
“I love the show, I love the character. I’m super stoked and excited for it,” Rogers said.
Senior Morgan Rosen entered Keene State College as a dual major in theater and criminal justice. “I loved doing technical theater work. And didn’t really want to let it go when I went to college and had originally thought, ‘Oh, you know, I’ll just hold onto this,’ and then I’ll go off into a criminal justice post-grad,” Rosen said.
However, after sitting in on a workshop held by KSC alumni Alexander Davis, Rosen decided to focus on theater. “[Davis] talked about being able to do what he wanted after college in the arts. And it kind of gave me the courage to be like, okay, I don’t need the safety net of criminal justice,” Rosen said.
Rosen’s passion for technical theater was sparked at a young age. “When I was in the third grade… my sister was in a show of ‘Peter Pan,’ and I remember seeing the shadows, making characters fly and moving stuff around. And I just remember thinking like, I want to be one of those shadows,” Rosen said.
Now, Rosen gets to be part of the technical team to make those elements happen on stage. Working as co-assistant technical director, Rosen plays a key role in the technical elements of every show KSC theater and dance is putting on this year. Even beyond the physical work the position requires, Rosen is excited to work with her colleagues in the department.
“I’m so thankful for all the opportunities that the theater department has given me, so myself in this role,” Rosen said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to give back to the department and serve the department.”
Caitlin Howard can be contacted at