Collegiate Theatrics: The University of Memphis' LAYNE CRUTSINGER

Collegiate Theatrics: The University of Memphis' LAYNE CRUTSINGER

Theater companies, producers and directors all over the country - if not the world - are benefitting from the rise to prominence of Tennessee college theater programs as Volunteer State-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 continues to grow, it's likely that many of the talented young actors now seen on stages throughout Tennessee will claim their rightful places among the renowned theaterati of the world.

Collegiate Theatrics: The University of Memphis' LAYNE CRUTSINGERAnd if there's any justice in the world of the performing arts, you can rest assured that University of Memphis' Layne Mackenzie Crutsinger will be among the names of particular note. A graduate of Mt. Juliet High School, she's now a senior at the University of Memphis, looking ahead to what the future holds in store for her.

Today, Layne Mackenzie Crutsinger is in the spotlight as the latest scholar/actor to be profiled in our recurring features series Collegiate Theatrics.

What's your college experience at The University of Memphis been like so far? It's definitely been busy! Since my freshman year, I've learned to make work for myself while I'm not in shows, which allows me to work with some amazing people in my department and in the Memphis theatre community. My collegiate career has taught me to put my heart into everything I do, whether it's performing in a musical, writing a scene, or directing a devised piece.

Has it lived up to its advance hype? Definitely. You're working with professionals on a daily basis to really specify and hone your craft, whatever that may be. We're still growing as a department, but we've already seen the leaps and bounds we can make in the time we've been around. I mean, we will be the first theater to perform Be More Chill outside of its Off-Broadway and Broadway runs.

What's your favorite thing about studying at U of M? The professors are some of the smartest, most caring people that you might ever meet in the business. Personally, I've learned to take constructive criticism so much better in the last three years because the faculty know how to address issues head-on and take time to perfect every detail. They see you as so much more than your talent and your type, and that makes all the difference in the world.

What does the future hold for you - have your aspirations changed since you're now an experienced college student? I see myself creating a whole new sub-category of theatre. I'm not sure what it is or how I'm going to accomplish it, but because of my training here, I know I'm on the right path. I am currently in the process of applying to internships, apprenticeships, fellowships (oh my!) all over the country for acting, directing, and writing. I've learned that I also have some chops in play writing and directing as well as performing, which allows me to showcase myself in so many different ways!

Collegiate Theatrics: The University of Memphis' LAYNE CRUTSINGERWhat collegiate theatrical moment looms largest in your mind? Last semester, I was able to direct my first full-length play: The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls by Meg Miroshnik. It's this awesome all-female show that forced me way out of my comfort zone. We got to add aspects like a live band and mocktails that audience members drank with the characters before the show. It was the perfect experience to call my first directing credit, thanks to the Department of Theatre and Dance.

What advice would you offer to high school students considering making the plunge? Do the work! Read as many plays as you possibly can! Learn as much music as your brain will allow! Talent can get you in the door, but hard work will get you the job.

What's your latest theatrical project, and what comes next? We just finished our fantastic run of The Spitfire Grill at The U of M, directed by Roberta Inscho-Cox, in which I played Shelby Thorpe. As of now, I'm adapting a short story by a prominent contemporary author for the stage in a narrative theater project.

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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis

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