A Place for Theater, Onstage and Offstage

JINWOO CHONG/THE HOYA Andrew Walker (SFS ’16) on the set of Nomadic Theatre’s fall show, “afterlife: a ghost story,” for which he co-designed the set.

Andrew Walker (SFS ’16) on the set of Nomadic Theatre’s fall show, “afterlife: a ghost story,” for which he co-designed the set.

Andrew Walker (SFS ’16) has been involved in a show on campus for almost every semester he has been at Georgetown, even though as an international politics major with a certificate in women and gender studies, he has no immediate plans to pursue theater or music after graduation. Even so, Walker is far more than an actor. Given his former roles as director, set designer and arts advocate, there are few individuals who are as inclusively involved as him in Georgetown’s arts community. the hoya sat down with Walker to discuss acting, the arts and plans after college.

Tell me about your involvement on campus over the past three-and-a- half years in the arts?

When I first came to Georgetown, I was really excited about getting involved in theater. I auditioned for all of the shows that we were doing in the fall semester. I ended up being cast in a co-production between our department of performing arts and Nomadic Theatre, and that’s kind of where I found my home that year was in theater at Georgetown. I also did “Spring Awakening,” which was the Mask and Bauble musical. And then sophomore year I joined the Georgetown Phantoms. I was also in GUSA that year as the co-secretary for the subcommittee on creative expression. And the two big things we did out of that subcommittee was the report on the state of the arts and creative expression. We sent out a survey to 28 co-curricular groups and just asked for responses about their space allocation and funding allocation, and we got some really insightful responses that I really hope has helped drive some of the GUSA legislation and programming for the arts. Since then, the other thing that has come out of that committee is Arts Week, which is an eight-day event that just celebrates all of the artistic things that are happening on campus.

Did you always plan to get involved in the arts when you came to Georgetown?

I definitely wanted to do theater. And that was the thing I did right away. And then my sophomore year I really missed singing. I had grown up doing choir, and I thought a cappella would be a really good outlet for that so I joined the Phantoms. I think GUSA pushed me into more of an administrative role, so not only was I performing but I was also being an advocate for the arts, which was exciting.

Looking back as a senior, what do you think are some of the greatest problems facing the arts on Georgetown’s campus?

I would say the biggest thing that we don’t necessarily have control over but can lobby for is transparency and space allocation. It’s so limited on campus, which is what I think a lot of groups don’t know, and so it’s frustrating when you don’t get the exact place and the exact time you’re looking for. But I think if we knew why that was the case and knew who was rehearsing where at what times it would be just really helpful for there to be more of an understanding about saving space on campus. I would also say we could really use a greater sense of artistic community just because it’s very focused on “this is my group and this is what we’re doing this year.” But when it becomes a broader thing about being mutually supportive of all of the arts on campus and really seeing other people’s performances and going to other people’s events.

Can you talk to me a little bit about mentorship within the arts community at Georgetown?

One of the things that I started doing in theater was directing. I assistant-directed a play for one of my really good friend’s thesis and it was a co-production between Nomadic and the department. His name is Brendan Quinn (COL ’14) and he guided me a lot and taught me a lot about theater, which I then applied when I directed my own show. It was the Nomadic and Mask and Bauble co-production “Killer Joe,” which was last spring semester. And I think he’s my most direct connection with mentorship. But then I think the other really cool thing that we have, and you see it in a lot of Georgetown clubs — it’s so mutually supportive of each other. I have a pretty wide range of things that I’ve done in theater. I’ve acted. I’ve directed and I’ve been a lead designer on a show, which is not that uncommon. And it’s because we’re all constantly teaching each other new things. I think that’s the really unique thing about our community, but also makes sense in Georgetown where you do have all these student-run clubs like [Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service] or [Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union] or The Corp, where it is students helping each other. I think that’s a neat thing specifically in our theater community in Georgetown.

You’ve done a really wide range of things, from acting in musicals to directing a play to doing set design. If you had to choose, what would you say was the most meaningful process that you’ve been a part of?

It’s very hard to choose, but I would say directing the main stage for “Killer Joe” was really an exciting and special opportunity. I always say it’s the best work I’ve done in any discipline. Thematically, the show is really challenging. There are several scenes of violence and domestic abuse and sexual assault. And I think we did a good job of making the actors feel safe in the room. And I think that’s what I was most proud of was the community that we formed in that process and making each other feel safe and being committed to why that show is important.

So that’s kind of another realm of Georgetown arts that you are going to try to tackle. How do you think this will be different? Are there any experiences you’re going to try and take forward from it?

Being in musicals, I feel very safe. There’s a different style of acting. You learn a lot of your lines through song. In “The Metal Children,” which is the show I was just cast in, my character opens the second act and it’s a six-minute monologue. So it’s just a lot more lines.

Do you plan to go into theater or music in the future at all?

I don’t, not explicitly, as a career in either theater or music.

What kind of experiences do you think you’ll take forward into whatever field you eventually decide to go into?

I think the biggest thing is just that art is important. It can absolutely be applied to my career. I think I have a really strong sense of how I present myself to other people, especially with body language, and that totally comes from an acting background. But just in terms of life more generally, I think art as an expression is so important as a different kind of way to communicate ideas.


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