Collegiate Theatrics: Belmont University's ALEX DRINNEN
Theater companies, producers and directors all over the country - if not the world - are benefitting from the rise to prominence of Nashville and Tennessee-area college theater programs as locally trained students move from the halls of academia to the rehearsal halls, audition rooms and stages of the real world to take their places among the legions of working artists. And if the list of notable alumni continue to grow, it's likely that many of the talented young actors now seen on stages throughout the Volunteer State will claim their rightful places among the renowned theaterati of the world.
And if there's any justice in the world of the performing arts, you can rest assured that Belmont University's Alex Drinnen - one of the most accomplished and most often-cast young actors in Tennessee theater - will be among the names of particular note.
Today, Alex Drinnen is in the spotlight as our latest scholar/actor to be profiled in our recurring features series Collegiate Theatrics.
Born in Knoxville, Alex made his stage debut at the age of seven in a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, playing Sneezy at Carson-Newman College.
"As a kid, I would always run around the house and the yard with a cape and perform little 'movies' for my parents in our living room," he remembers. "Sometimes they'd go on for too long, but I was always thinking of performing and wanting to just simply play."
What's your college experience at Belmont University been like so far? My experience at Belmont has been the most transformative periods in my life. I've not only learned more than I could ever hope to learn regarding the craft of acting and theater as a whole, but I've also learned so much about myself in the process. Who I am as a person, how I react to certain environments, the kind of person and artist that I want to be seen as, and I think that those discoveries probably wouldn't have happened had I not attended Belmont.
Has it lived up to its advance hype? What's your favorite thing about studying at Belmont? It has more than lived up to the hype. I'm still blown away every day by the amount of talent that is here at our disposal as well as some of the greatest facilities I've ever seen in an academic setting. My favorite thing about studying at Belmont is the vast array of opportunities one has, both in and out of the department. We can explore different areas of design, writing, directing. Most schools don't have that opportunity so that's an amazing part of what makes Belmont special.
What does the future hold for you and have your aspirations changed since you're now an experienced college student? I feel like am much more confident in my status as an actor and artist than I was just two years ago. I feel like I have the capability to really go out and forge my own path in this business which is both scary and exhilarating at the same time, and I feel like Belmont and the theatre department have really prepared me for this journey. I'd say that where I once simply wanted to act, I'm really into writing my own works and directing, so in that aspect my aspirations have changed.
What collegiate theatrical moment looms largest in your mind? Playing Solyony in our most recent production of Three Sisters was a real eye opener for me. I think that one sticks out the most because that's the role that I certainly felt the most grounded in and most connected to. Not that I didn't in the other productions I've been a part of, but for that one I was really experimenting with new ways on how I as an actor get into character and work on characters, and I feel like that really changed my outlook on my process and what it means to me to be an actor.
What advice would you offer to high school students considering making the plunge? I would say to just have fun with it. And be open to changing your mind about it. Just because you get into theatre doesn't mean you have to close your mind to only think about theater. There are great opportunities wherever one goes and keeping an open mind about those will really make you a well-rounded artist. I know that sounds cliché and slightly cheesy, but the most fun I've ever had in collegiate theatre is when I'm just having a fun time on stage and enjoying the moment I'm in. Don't intellectualize everything. Have fun with it!
What's your latest theatrical project and what comes next? I'm currently the assistant projection designer for Belmont's production of The Importance of Being Earnest, which is running in November at the Black Box Theatre. After that, I'm both acting in and projection designer for These Shining Lives at the Belmont Troutt Theatre in the spring of 2018. I'm also working on a new play I'm writing, which is very exciting, as well as submitting my first feature length play I wrote last summer to various playwriting festivals.