Graduate student continues theatrical career at IU


Abby Lee performs as Susan,a blind housewife, in "Wait Until Dark" at Saint Michael’s College’s McCarthy Arts Center in July. Lee will play the lead role in IU Theatre's "Hedda Gabler" showing this September. Courtesy Photo and Courtesy Photo

Abby Lee will be playing the lead role of Hedda Tesman in IU Theatre’s production of “Hedda Gabler” this September at Ruth N. Halls Theatre.

“The role of Hedda is very complex, so I’m developing an understanding with my head and heart to find her,” Lee said.

Lee performed in her first play at age 10 but began practicing the art of acting at age five, she said.

“I’ve always had an overactive imagination and loved playing pretend with other people,” Lee said.

Originally from Chicago, Lee received her undergraduate degree in theater at Ohio Wesleyan 
University. She spent four years in Los Angeles and 10 years in New York before starting her master’s of fine arts in acting at IU this year.

“I’ve only been here for two weeks, but it’s been fun and interesting,” she said. “I want people to know more about our theater program because it is important.”

One of Lee’s latest 
performances was in 
Vermont, where she played Susan in “Wait Until Dark.”

“I learned a lot from this performance, and I hope to apply that to Hedda in September,” Lee said.

She said IU has 101-level theater classes that are great introductions for people who love theater.

“The MFA actors and directors teach the classes, and they love sharing information for students to learn as much as they can before trying it professionally,” Lee said.

Lee auditioned for the fall productions in August, and she said she was thrilled to find out she received the role of Hedda.

Hedda Tesman is born into a society incapable of recognizing her inner complexities. She is a woman who strives to affect the people around her, no matter how dark the outcome, according to the IU Theatre website.

“Hedda’s mental illness starts to come out, so I’m in the process of figuring out who she is and why she acts this way,” Lee said.

One of the most challenging parts about 
preparing for a production is memorizing lines, she said.

“Memorizing lines is the worst part because — until you have the lines out of your way — you’re stuck,” Lee said.

Lee said she planned to continue working professionally once she is finished at IU.

The job of an actor is to audition, and getting the part is the perk, she said.

“It’s like surfing,” Lee said. “For as much as you practice, you don’t know what’s coming, so you grab onto the wave and ride it out.”

Lee said she was making sure to enjoy her time at IU by supporting other students in their ventures.

“I’m excited to go to my first sports game as well as seeing my fellow MFAs’ projects,” she said. “It’s going to be a really 
great season.”

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