arts   |   performances   |   theater

The night I bombed: Students talk learning from failure



stage-kiss

Cast members of the play "Stage Kiss" act in a rehearsal Sept. 13. Rebecca Dwoskin and Nathaniel Kohlmeier are the leads in "Stage Kiss." Alex Deryn Buy Photos

Everyone has had a bad day at some point. Everyone has had a day they deem “the worst day ever.” But what happens when someone has their worst day onstage, under the lights, in front of their friends and strangers?

For most of the students, their worst memories happened on high school stages. Senior and media cinema major, Nathaniel Kohlmeier, said his worst performance was in his first high school show, “Charley’s Aunt." The play contained a scene where his character was picked up and thrown onto a table. It didn’t go as planned.

“The table, you know, always stayed upright and was fine for most of the run,” Kohlmeier said. “Then, opening night, this dude, a lot bigger than me, picks me up, and I guess he got excited because he chucks me through the table.”

The table collapsed underneath him. He said he laid on top of the pieces of the broken table, stunned.

“The guy who threw me has fallen on top of me, and he’s like ‘are you OK?’" Kohlmeier said. "And I grab him, and I go ‘we’re not breaking character.'"

He said he and his friends pulled themselves up and attempted to recover from the mishap. As they forced their way back into the script, their director scrambled behind them with a new table. 

“I’m just trying to improvise, so I wave my hand out like this,” Kohlmeier said, flailing his arm. “I just give her an elbow straight to the face. So, now, not only have I broken the set with my body, but also just nailed this amazing woman, our director, in the face. It was traumatizing.”

Connor Starks, a sophomore theater major, recently wrapped up an independent production called “Emergency.” Starks said he was a junior in high school when he did a Cardinal Stage STEM-based educational show for children.

He said at one point during the show, the actress he was starring alongside got off-track on her dialogue. Starks tried to go back, to not confuse the children, but she just kept going. Soon, it was impossible to comprehend.

“It became a game of catch-up and back track, trying to cover our butts," Starks said. "It was a mess."

 Starks said he could tell by their faces they had no idea what was even going on, but they had to just keep pretending like we had done our job.

Isaac "Zack" Rocklin-Waltch, a sophomore from Boston, said he came to IU for the University’s exceptional classics and drama programs. 

“The night I bombed … there’s definitely a lot to choose from,” Rocklin-Waltch said. “I’m going to go with in eighth grade when I was Aladdin, in 'Aladdin.' I was the whitest Aladdin. And the weekend of the show, was the weekend that my voice dropped.”

Despite the rapid changes in his voice that are part of growing up, he continued to participate in the show hoping for the best.

“So, during the opening lines of 'A Whole New World,' my voice just cracked all over the place, and I was like, 'oh god, I can’t let that ever happen again,'" Rocklin-Waltch said. "And lo and behold, the night right after, on closing night, it happened again."

He followed it with an impression of his younger self’s broken singing voice. 

“It definitely allowed me to learn to laugh at myself, like, we are constantly in a state of growth — literally in that case for me,” he said. “Nothing and no one is going to be perfect. And that is fine.”

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

More in Arts



Comments powered by Disqus