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Athena Horton, right, in ENC’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” this past fall.

Senior biology major Athena Horton has become a familiar face in theater productions this past year at ENC. What is the story behind this seemingly new shift, and how has she found her niche in the arts during her last year at ENC? In an interview, Horton revealed the answers.

When did you first begin theater and why? What drew you to it?

I started theater when I was really young. You know—being forced to do church musicals and such. As I got older, I chose to do it on my own by auditioning for and taking part in musicals during middle school and high school. This year I decided to start taking part in it again because I wanted to do something just for myself and for fun. It’s funny because up until this year, I had forgotten just how much I love theater. Now, I can’t really imagine my life without it.

What shows have you been in? Are you in any currently?

I was in ‘Godspell,’ ‘Grease,’ ‘Hello Dolly,’ and ‘West Side Story’ before I came to ENC, and within the past school year I have taken part in ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ ‘…Or Dreaming’ (an adaptation of Strindberg’s ‘A Dream Play’), and I am currently in ENC’s production of ‘Fools.’

What do you think of theater at ENC? Co-actors? Directors?

I think the theater program at ENC is wonderful, and I certainly wish I realized that earlier on and had a double major. The actors that I’ve worked with from ENC and from outside of the school have all been really great. I think that is because I have been lucky enough to run into people who are in love with theater and want to grow and learn as actors. Tara [Brooke Watkins] is incredibly talented as a director. From the three shows I have worked on with her, I’ve been able to see her passion and dedication for her work, and her ability to work alongside actors and take them to where they need to be. I certainly did not believe I had the talent to pull off a ‘Rosie’ or ‘Beneatha,’ but she was able to pull something out of me that I did not realize I had. Although I haven’t worked with Professor Ballard, I know many people who have, and have only really heard great things about him as well.

How would you explain your feelings toward theater and acting? What do you like or dislike about it?

Hmm … theater for me is a place to remove yourself from one reality and plant yourself into another. It is a great outlet for me that has helped me to deal with the craziness that life can sometimes bring. What I really like about it is that I don’t feel like I am a good enough actor, so I always have to work hard, but as a result, I produce good results. I like that, and knowing that by stepping into someone else’s shoes and telling a story, I may have an impact on the audience members’ lives—it is really rewarding! And to be honest, I think this thing is too new and exciting for me to be able to see anything negative about my theater experience.

Do you wish you had begun acting earlier? What role do you see theater having in your life after college?

I absolutely wish I realized how much I love theater earlier on. If so, I could have actually tried to get formal acting training and it would have already been a big part of my life. I’m not exactly sure what part theater is going to play in my life for the long-term, but I certainly plan to continue to take part in productions and watch others perform.