sa­man­tha orner

Spread­ing her wings for a dis­tant stage

Pasatiempo - - Young Artists - — Robert Nott

The au­di­ence pur­sued Sa­man­tha Orner dur­ing her first stage ap­pear­ance— as the Mad Hat­ter in a the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion of Alice’s Ad­ven­tures in Won­der­land. But they weren’t chas­ing her be­cause they were up­set with her per­for­mance. Rather, it was a mo­bile pro­duc­tion that trav­eled through­out the Santa Fe Girls’ School, where she at­tended mid­dle school. It was Orner’s de­but, and she fell in love with act­ing.

“I re­ally had no idea what I wanted to be when I grow up,” she said over cof­fee at a lo­cal café. “I dreamt about be­ing a lawyer be­cause I could ar­gue very well, but then I re­al­ized I was sim­ply com­plain­ing.”

Orner fol­lowed her de­but by act­ing in four shows for Pan­de­mo­nium Pro­duc­tions: Guys and Dolls (as Harry the Horse), Grease (as Jan), The Jun­gle Book (as King Louie), and Willy Wonka (asWil­lyWonka). Joey Chavez, di­rec­tor of the the­ater pro­gram at Santa Fe High School, saw her work with Pan­de­mo­nium and en­cour­aged Orner to ap­ply for his drama pro­gram. Her first role at the school was hardly type-cast­ing: she played a woman in her 40s who adopts a child be­cause she can’t con­ceive. Orner re­cently per­formed in the en­sem­ble for one of the school’s Broad­way show­case galas.

In March, she turns 18. In June, she grad­u­ates. By Septem­ber, she in­tends to be en­rolled in a col­lege, prob­a­bly on the East Coast, where she plans to ma­jor in the­ater and mi­nor in chem­istry (just to cover her bases). She’s in­ter­ested in the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion and even in­terned at Chris­tus St. Vin­cent Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter last sum­mer.

“Med­i­cal work is just an in­ter­est and not a pas­sion,” she said. “Act­ing is a pas­sion. It’s what makes me happy, and if I can get paid do­ing what makes me happy, I’d be in heaven.”

That can’t hap­pen here, she said. Santa Fe just doesn’t have a lot of the­ater — and cer­tainly lit­tle the­ater that pays. “If I stayed here, what would be here for me in terms of the­ater? I don’t know. I could au­di­tion for shows, but in terms of mak­ing a liv­ing? I’m ready to leave, to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new and get out of Santa Fe.” Her friends feel the same way, she said. “We’re all leav­ing — any­one who wants to do the­ater is leav­ing.”

She doesn’t see that as a bad or sad thing. “It’s just how it is. If I wanted to be a lawyer or be in the med­i­cal field, I would stay. But we don’t have the op­por­tu­nity to spread our wings ar­tis­ti­cally here.”

She’s aware that it won’t be easy “out there.” She’ll have to adapt to a new en­vi­ron­ment, new class­mates, and a new level of com­pe­ti­tion. But as much as she loves Santa Fe, she feels she has to make the jump.

“If I stay here, I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to stay here and lose my mo­ti­va­tion,” she said. “Like if I wanted to start a group here, I’d have no idea how. I want to go some­where that’s ac­tu­ally known for the­ater.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.