Lead actor enjoys the experience of ‘Rabbit Hole’

Joey JohnsAs a sophomore in high school, Joey Johns ’14 was asked to join an acting troupe in order to perform at competitions. He had just begun acting, and it was his experience with this club that has kept the non-traditional student from Ripon, Wis., performing for the last 14 years.

“The sense of community and competitive support at that event was something that I had never witnessed before,” John says. “But it was the raw energy that everyone involved contributed to creating that left me in awe; it was almost like a religious awakening for me.”

Johns realized that theatre is where he wants to spend his life. He transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha and is majoring in theatre at Ripon College. This week, Johns will play Howie Corbett, the father of the family, in “Rabbit Hole,” playing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday in Benstead Theatre, C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts.

It is a role that he went after and earned. “I was rather enthusiastically hopping for Howie,” Johns says. “I had been familiar with the show for several years, and it is a fantastic piece.”

Conveying an emotional experience for audiences is a major draw for Johns. “To me, a theatrical performance is the ultimate exploration into the human condition,” he says. “It employs elements of technology, mathematics, science, business, music, two- and three-dimensional art, psychology, philosophy, theology, and every other aspect of our existence that you can think of.”

Through his acting, Johns hopes to convey emotions that can be felt during his performances and emphasize the connection between the characters in the play and the audience. “It is this immediacy that makes theatre different,” he says. “There is a kind of primal intuition of this idea that can be felt by both the performers and the audience. It surrounds them and connects them, and that interaction between audience and performer creates an experience unlike any other that lasts sometimes long after the performance is over.”

He says that part of acting is being able to work with other people who share the same passion, and the cast of “Rabbit Hole” has invested a lot of time working together to create a powerful story.

“It’s actually fairly difficult to not think of your cast as a family,” Johns says. “We spend so much time together that we can’t help but connect with each other. I was already good friends with Amanda Finn ’14, who plays Nat, my mother-in-law, so there is no surprise that we stick together. But I also got to be rather close with Susie Shively ’17, who plays Becca, my wife. It also helps that they are both a ton of fun to be around!”

Enjoying the experience is a goal of Johns’. For the rest of his senior year at Ripon College, he plans to enjoy being in school.

“Sometimes that isn’t as easy as it sounds,” he says, “but if you can’t enjoy what you are doing, you should take the hint and make a change!”

-Tsering Yangchen ’14
Madison, Wis.

To learn more about the Theatre Department at Ripon College, click here.


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