Hello Freshmen! Welcome to “The Truman Show”

Hello and welcome to your orientation for being an extra on The Truman Show! Congratulations on this exciting opportunity. While you won’t be financially compensated (in fact we’ll charge you to be here), the experience and exposure from this job will translate into opportunities down the road! 

As you know, here at “Kenyon College,” we all only exist to solidify the illusion that this is real life. However, with reality crumbling around us, you might be hard pressed to think of how to play your role as a “student.” And that’s what this informational post is all about! I’m here to teach you how to play the part of a “college student” convincingly.

Now the first thing to remember about your job here is that while you may have some scripted moments, the majority of your work will be improvisatory. Don’t be afraid to inject some flavor into the character you’ll be playing for the next four years, but make sure to make it believable. Here are some guidelines for how to walk that line:

  1. Don’t Cheat Out To Face The Audience: While many of you have a background in theater, rest assured, you don’t have to cheat out to face the audience. Your audience is not in any one place, your job is to convince the world that you’re a functioning person. If it helps, think of it as theater in the round.
  2. Mix it up: Your character should have an overarching story, mostly told through superficial changes such as hair cut, clothing, or tattoo/piercings. The audience needs to understand that you’re becoming your own individual and developing personality, however this all needs to occur visually because they don’t have the attention span to check in with you. Remember: WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH AIR TIME TO GIVE EVERYONE AN ARC.
  3. As Long As You’re On Campus, You’re Playing Your Part: There is no backstage at Kenyon College. As long as you’re in proximity of another student, you must conform to the character you have developed on this campus. You are permitted (but not encouraged) to break character only on breaks from school for a week or longer. You made this bed, and now you must lie in it. What the hell is imposter syndrome?
  4. No Stage Voice: In the first season of Kenyon College, we had an issue with sound design because “students” kept projecting their voices and ruining otherwise naturalistic scenes. This led to several reshoots of convocation and the first day of classes. We assure you: the hidden microphones all over campus are powerful enough to pick up any sound that you make.
  5. Have Fun!: After all, isn’t that what college is all about? In a world where a bachelor’s degree is increasingly meaningless, why would real college students feel stress about the world they live in? Try to work this into your character motivations as much as possible. 

Reach out if you have any questions about incorporating these basic outlines into your performance. In the next section of this instructional series, we’ll go over proper classroom etiquette for convincing the world that you’re an English major in a class outside your discipline.

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