Finding renewal through artistic cross-fertilization

Why choose just one medium over another?

by Kate McCarthy

I’m a theater major, but I haven’t been in a full production since my senior year of high school when I playedMaria in West Side Story — not as good as my usual character, “Young Boy from the Village,” but I persevered. Being in a show now, I have a refreshed appreciation for the team values of this world.

In college, stand-up became one of my main pursuits, and I headed out several times a week to work material at open-mics. Now, being back onstage in a different contextand playing one role of many in an ensemble piece, I feel out of my former element. I’d become accustomed to the validation in real-time that comes with stand-up — the immediate gratification (or despair) that accompanies solo comedy performance.

There’s no middleman; if you screw up, who else is there to blame? You find solace in fellow comedians. But ultimately, it’s you alone — live or die by the audience — a prospect all at once terrifying and tantalizing.

In a play, you succeed and fail together. You trust a group to carry out a story as a unit and spend far too much time together in pursuit of that. I’m constantly dazzled by the ingenuity of my cast-mates, and I’m inspired to bring that fresh energy to stand-up and beyond.

Rediscovering theater after focusing on stand-up has reminded me what I love about both. It seems the two can strengthen and inform each other. Maybe lots of artistic crossover is the key to creativity. Or not — come see my show and prove me wrong.