While performing on stage in front of others is a tough task for many, being the only actor on the stage in front of an audience – well that’s even tougher.
Abby Moore, Wittenberg class of 2025, did just that and quite successfully, when she starred in the performance Grounded, recently presented by Wittenberg’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
Moore was a one-woman show at the Student Lab Theatre earlier this year in the production, which tells the story of an ace fighter pilot whose career in the sky is ended early due to an unexpected pregnancy.
“Dr. (Patrick) Reynolds had expressed interest in wanting to put on this production at Wittenberg last year in the fall,” said Moore, an exercise science and theatre double major from Chesterland, Ohio. “When he approached me with the opportunity, of course I had to say yes. As someone who wants to do acting outside of college, an opportunity like this was not something I could pass up.”
Moore, who is also a member of the acapella group Just Eve, has been in five shows so far at Wittenberg, including Grounded, Wolves, Theory of Relativity, Peter Pan, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. However, she said Grounded was the most grueling for her.
“I honestly couldn’t believe this was actually going to happen as originally it was set to happen in the fall of the following year and then got pushed back to spring semester,” she said. “Once rehearsals started up, I began to realize what I had signed myself up for, which at the time was horrifying, but now I am so glad I did. I would say it was definitely a challenge to be able to memorize around 80 minutes of dialogue, and be able to perform it in front of an audience with no one else on stage with me. It took a lot of memorization, practicing outside of rehearsals, reciting lines in my sleep, and research.”
And her research wasn’t just on the play itself, but on her character, the Air Force, and the challenges that come with killing remotely as a drone pilot – all of which were crucial to understanding her role and being able to perform it as authentically as she could.
“I felt it was really important to get as good of a grip on this character as I could to not only be able to memorize my lines and put on a good show, but to be respectful to the individuals who serve our country and to spread the message George Brant (author of the play) had intended. I hope I was able to do this. My favorite parts of this whole production would have to be finally getting on stage and proving to myself that I could do it. Being able to hear the positive feedback was also one of my favorite parts because it let me know that all my hard work and stress had paid off.”
Moore actually started doing theatre in the fourth grade, participating in school musicals once a year. Then in high school, she decided to join an Excel Tecc group - The Academy for the Performing Arts - at Chagrin Falls High School.
“There I was able to learn acting basics and earned college credits, in addition to taking CCP (College Credit Plus) classes at Lakeland Community College,” she added. “In this program, I was able to act in a few shows and radio plays such as Silent Sky, War of the Worlds, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Outside of school, I was able to be a part of an immersive theatre show called Dream Walkers, put on by an immersive theatre company called Shadow of the Run in the summer of 2021.”
Moore, who also recently performed in the department’s show, Boeing Boeing, April 13-16, feels her Wittenberg theatre experience has given her “confidence and determination” that she never quite had before.
“It has instilled in me a deeper desire to pursue my dreams while I am still young no matter how crazy they may be because if I give up, or decide to not even try to pursue acting, I will never know what I can accomplish,” she said. “Overall, this experience has helped me to believe in myself and improve my confidence. In addition to this, if I end up taking a different career path along the road, I have gained a better work ethic and improved my public speaking skills.”
For now, Moore said her future career plans are not set in stone. She prefers to see where the road ahead leads her.
“I have an idea of the direction I want to go, but my plan at the moment is to graduate with my bachelor’s degree and take a couple gap years while I am still young to pursue acting,” she said. “Once those two years are up, I am going to decide whether or not I want to continue pursuing acting or go to grad school for occupational therapy. I might even choose an entirely different career from those two options. I would love to be able to make a career from acting, but I recognize how difficult it is to break into, which is why I have my exercise science major to possibly open up a few more doors in my future.”
Through Wittenberg, Moore has learned how important connections are and reaching out to professionals.
“Overall, I would say this school has helped me learn how to be independent and effectively communicate in the professional world no matter what career path I choose,” she said. “I love Wittenberg. It is a small school, so everyone pretty much knows each other, and it is a very supportive community. The teachers and people here genuinely want you to succeed and care a lot about their students. I have learned from this school to never be afraid to ask for help. The worst that can happen is someone will say ‘no.’”