A student may take many different avenues in order to find himself in college. Whether it’s through schoolwork, jobs or the multitude of organizations that USC has to offer, there is always something for a student to get involved with that will push him to become the person he was meant to grow into.
Third-year theater student Sam Edelson thinks he has discovered what it takes for him to find himself with stage acting.
“I really just love presenting and telling a story with a group of people. That to me has always been the most exciting, some of my favorite, most profound moments a lot of the times are after I see a really powerful play and you leave and you’re like ‘I need to process this,'” Edelson said.
Edelson stars in the Department of Theater and Dance’s upcoming production of “Speech & Debate,” which will show Nov. 9 through Nov. 12.
“I think it’s going to be a great play, this is the most excited I’ve ever been for a play," he said. "I think the director is just one of the most amazing people I’ve met through the theater community in regards to support."
“Speech & Debate” is about a group of teenagers who band together to bring down a teacher, but must also deal with their own problems to grow as people.
“Each character kind of tells a bit of a different story or like there’s a different way to connect with each character," he said.
Edelson grew up in nearby Lexington, where he originally had aspirations besides acting.
“Originally I wanted to be a film editor, that was the first thing that I knew. It was my first passion and then acting kind of came after that,” he said.
After watching a video of actor Patrick Stewart discuss Shakespeare, Edelson then decided to pursue a career in stage acting. In his junior year of high school, he performed community theater with On Stage Columbia, as well as being a part of “The Crucible” his senior year. When time came to attend college, USC seemed like the right fit for him at the time.
“My brothers went here, it was kind of a money thing, a kind of a ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing or who I am,' so it would be nice to stay kind of close to home just in case I can’t handle it well,” he said.
Edelson has been handling it very well thanks to the community and the support he has felt from the theater department. Grad students are obligated to work on the main stage show and their background really helped him grow as a performer.
“Coming from high school where it’s really laid back ... to 20 plus hours a week rehearsing, it was really great learning experience to work with some of these people that I’m still in contact with.”
Edelson knew Peter Duffy, the head of the Master of Arts in Teaching in theater education, when he came to USC, and the closeness that teachers and students share is one of the keys that Edelson says makes the theater program so strong.
“With my experience, it’s easy to kind of connect with the teachers ... Especially my theater teachers always ask, ‘Is there anything I can do for you before class starts?’ Which is really nice.”
Unless it’s a big blockbuster of a play like “Hamilton” or “The Book of Mormon”, most contemporary plays do not get the same attention by the public. Edelson knows that if theater productions can bring up their necessary messages to the audience, then theater will still be relevant in the future.
“If theater can open up dialogue, that’s all. That’s the point, that’s what it’s trying to do if we can look at an issue.”
Edelson wants acting to be his career; what kind of acting he tries to work in still remains to be seen.
“I’d love to act on stage for a while, but I’d love to do voice-over work, honestly. I’ve done a little bit of that and I just love that," he said. "But I guess I’ve never done any on camera acting so I’m curious to how that would feel."
Edelson is still aware of the uncertainty that comes with a career in acting.
“It feels weird pursuing a career as an actor because it’s one of the few professions where I feel like you’re gonna be unemployed for most of your life. It’s always chasing more work,” he said.
But if acting is one of your passions, all the bumps in the road that come along with it is just a part of the journey towards success.
“Theater and film and music are the three most important things to me, and so if I can pursue a career within film in any way I’d be happy.”