Student Speaker - Maggie Parker, BA Theatre
Congratulations everyone! For those of you who weren’t paying attention, that’s pathetic. I suggest you get tested for one of those disorders. A.D.D or A.D.H.DD.HG.? For those of you who were, you know my name is Maggie. I realize I am not the most qualified or most talented, or most smartest but…I was the only person in the theatre department who would agree to speak so…
Students, today is a day to celebrate! You’ve finished your tests. You’ve written your papers. You have are receiving a degree from the School of the Arts at the University of Kansas and most importantly, in the words of a very wise friend, at least we don’t have debtor’s prisons anymore.
Now, I assume many of you, like myself; have been experiencing feelings of loss lately. Maybe you’ve have feelings of anxiety, terror, inebriation, or fear as we embark on this entirely new chapter of our lives. And for good reason, it’s a scary place out there. Spiders, meatloaf, you name it. BUT! A little birdie told me I am in the company of some of THE most talented people in alllllll of Lawrence. Maybe even the whole metro area. So find comfort in this fact. This has been an especially pill large for me to swallow. But if you remember anything I say, remember this: You must trust what you do.
As you go out into the world find comfort in what you’ve learned here at KU. Whether it be Dance, Visual Arts, Film, or Theatre. KNOW you have a solid education and have refined the tools that are applicable to your talents. Find comfort that your faculty are some of the most distinguished in their fields. And find comfort that these men and women, nationally and world renown, have invested in you, as you have them. I won’t speak for all of us, but here in Murphy High we like our bonding time. We play softball and throw Frisbees with our professors. We go to basketball games and brunch together. We support each other’s work being done outside of the department and, most importantly, we learn from each other.
Find comfort in your time spent at KU. When I think back on the last four years, I find humor in how different the end product is from what I had originally expected. As a seventeen year old I saw my college career as anything but an education. I was ready to “get out of the house” and “be a college kid.” Whatever that meant. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, how could I. And I say with full confidence that I am grateful, that four years of theatre later, I am still in one piece and able to speak to you today.
I’m going to go ahead and high 5 myself from all of you. Being a student in SOTA isn’t easy. Despite the fact most people assume we play pretend and watch movies all day, we know differently. Don’t get me wrong, I have had the occasional day of red light green light and “embodying” the color orange but, I would be out of my mind if I denied the TIME and effort that goes into any one project in this building.
Now take all of this comfort, stick it in your car, drive to Target, go to the customer service counter and exchange it for confidence.
This is where it gets extraordinarily cheesy…
In the words of Joseph Papp, producer and director, “This country is alive with talent. We have a tremendous amount of culture—we just have to focus it and put it some place.”
I’m convinced, for the purpose of this speech, that Papp was aware of the soon to be graduated School of the Arts class at the University of Kansas 2012 CA. Papp did not mean for you to go home and sit on all of this education and talent. He didn’t want you to hang it up in your closet or hide it in a box somewhere. He was encouraging people like you to put your art out there. Share your work with the world. Heck, change the world. I said it. Clicheville, here we come!
Seriously, though. Go out there and change the world!! By any means necessary…as long as it doesn’t disgrace that Jayhawk name. To quote Ellen Barkin in the 1999 drama Drop Dead Gorgeous, “If they ask you to take your top off, get the money first.”
Students, you have worked your tushes off and now is the time to reflect on that. I’ve seen some pretty incredible things in my time here at KU and in our little ol’ theatre department. I just saw our costume shop build over 100 costumes for our final season production. I have rolled around in trash bags on the Lied Center stage. I’ve friended, studied under, and officially “roasted” a distinguished professor. I’ve rented moon bounces and red carpets (all for the sake of tradition.) I have been to University Dance performances, film festivals, and art expos. And with all of this under my belt; I’ve networked. I have received advice and references. I have made my own way, in preparation for the world outside.