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Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERG

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERG

Following a summer spent as an intern with Studio Tenn (and appearing in the company's production of Frankenstein), Regan Holmberg finds herself in the midst of her junior year at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro and already is hard at work on her first show of the semester. In fact, she predicts fall semester 2018 is going to be as jam-packed as her summer was as Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine opens in MTSU's Dorethe Tucker Theatre tonight.

Majoring in computer science, with a minor in mathematics and a full-time job, Regan Holmberg - who says she has been beyond grateful for her collegiate experience thus far - might be something of an anomaly among collegiate theater artists, but she insists the "slew of experiences" she's been provided has kept her "jack-of-all-trades heart at bay: "Majoring in computer science, minoring in mathematics, working a full time job, and rehearsals at night means very little sleep but a wonderful feeling of fulfillment," she explains.

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERGGraduating from Nashville's John Overton High School in the spring of 2016, the Florida native (she migrated to Tennessee at a young age), Holmberg describes herself as a "highly independent and aggressively determined young girl knowing she would take on the world, but not knowing in what way."

Her choice of MTSU for college may have been made from an economical standpoint - she chose to stay local, she says, for the financial security of an in-state institution - she set her academic sights on the sciences, all the while realizing she'd never be able to "keep her hands and heart out of the arts

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERGDuring her first semester at MTSU, she found herself consumed by Macbeth, learning the technical aspects in the Nashville Shakespeare Festival's apprentice company. The following semester of her freshman year, she took on the challenging role of Diana in MTSU's production of Next to Normal.

"I've been very lucking to be allowed to grow both inside and outside the theater department," she says.

Today, with the opening of The Adding Machine just hours away, Regan Holmberg talks about her college experience thus far and offers some insights into what makes her tick in today's installment of Collegiate Theatrics...

What's your college experience at MTSU been like so far? It's been truly incredible, I've been very lucky in the fact I've been able to experiment and truly find what does and doesn't work for me. Most people just blink slowly when they find out I'm a computer science major with a theater night job, but it's been so intensely fulfilling. I've been really fortunate to be allowed to explore both sides of my brain and test myself and my limits. Science has helped me in shaping my critical thinking, my attention to detail, and my dedication to a subject. The arts have shaped me in my creativity, risk taking, and my ability to allow myself to take chances and fail when I need to. They influence each other so deeply. Because of the flexibility I've been allowed I can approach my software with new points of view and perseverance and can approach my craft with strong analysis and understanding. I've been blessed to have professors who understand when I need to miss a class for a performance and a theater department that has welcomed a passionate outsider with open arms.

Has your MTSU experience lived up to its advance hype? Absolutely. It's really difficult sometimes because I've always been the person who has looked to the future. College has always seemed like this gate I had to get through to get to the good stuff. However, the experiences I've had in college have prepared me for that future in a way I could have never anticipated. I met my fiance when he came to see a collegiate show I was in. I was allowed to explore different facets of interest and education. Opportunities, friendships and failures were all presented in a safe but real environment where I could learn the lessons I needed at such a pivotal moment of my life. My favorite thing about college has been the flexibility but still rigorous scheduling I have been allowed. People usually don't think much of public schools, but because of the lack of specificity, I was allowed to explore and thrive in the environments I sought out.

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERG
Studio Tenn's Frankenstein

What does the future hold for you and have your aspirations changed since you're now an experienced college student? My fiance and I are looking to settle in Knoxville for a while where I hope to continue to explore my jack-of-all-trades mentality. I would love to branch into directing, dramaturgy and more technical aspects of theater. I'm a very detail-oriented person, so the symbolism and overall message that directors must plan and execute is very attractive to me. I don't know if I could abandon the stage completely, but branching out would be very healthy and exciting for my state of mind.

What collegiate theatrical moment looms largest in your mind? The two shows I've really explored in a major way in college are polar opposites and I've really appreciated the challenge. It would be nearly impossible to pick a favorite. My first show was Next to Normal where I got to explore playing a mentally unsettled and vulnerable woman in the lowest moments of her life. It was realistic and emotionally harrowing. It was a process [from which] I left exhausted every day and helped me grow exponentially as an actor. I'm currently exploring an expressionistic piece (The Adding Machine) which is so outside of my norm. I'm really savoring the challenge and I've had such a great experience with it so far. So, I truly don't know if I could pick. I had a really incredible time participating in a school-led Backwards Broadway event to raise money for charity and had such a blast with that as well, plus I personally thought I looked dashing in my mustache.

What advice would you offer to high school students considering making the plunge? College isn't for everyone, so I would never say it's a "must do." However, I can impart that the opportunities that college provided me with was invaluable. Young actors have so so much to learn and a good school can really impart knowledge in a safe environment. Honestly even further than just education, the connections have been invaluable. So much of the theater industry comes from networking and college is an invaluable way of meeting actors, professors, and tech professionals that will really enhance your experience. You never know when a strong recommendation or a friend in the right place will kick-start an amazing opportunity.

Collegiate Theatrics: Middle Tennessee State University's REGAN HOLMBERG
The Adding Machine at MTSU

What's your latest theatrical project and what comes next? MTSU is tackling The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice to kick off their season. I'll be playing the role of Shrdlu, as well as cameoing as Mr. Four and Mrs. Six. The Adding Machine has been hailed as one of the first expressionistic pieces and I'm so excited to tackle this project. We're a little more than a week into the rehearsal process and it's already been so amazing. This show is so different from previous pieces I've done and the director and cast have all been so patient and willing to explore as we all try to bring this to life. Be sure to check it out at MTSU's Tucker Theater October 3-6!

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