Outstanding Undergraduates in Theatre: Performance
An interview with Junior Tori Anderson by Clara Wilch
As we end the semester, the Theatre Arts Department wanted to focus in on the work of some outstanding members of the Senior Class. Tori Anderson has been recognized for her work in the area of performance; She shared with us some of her favorite and formative experiences at Pitt, goals for the future, and some insights for incoming students about how to make the most of their time at the University of Pittsburgh.
What drew you to theatre, and performance specifically?
I’m drawn to theatre because in actual life you can be yourself and you can do great things and love and be heard and feel every emotion. On stage, however, you can live somebody else’s life while drawing from your experiences to bring a character to life. You can be anybody. You can be anything, you can do anything. You can be Peter Pan and fly, or you can be Hamlet and die, or you can be a dog or a wall or the moon. The possibilities are endless, and I love everything about it.
What attracted you to Pitt, and how have your experiences here guided the growth of your interests? Any formative professors or classes that helped you zone in on your interests?
I was attracted to Pitt when I visited Pittsburgh the summer of 2015. I ended up loving the city so much I decided to transfer from the University of Wyoming. I feel Pitt has guided my experiences and growth; I love and admire all the people that are brought in to direct shows and hold workshops. It’s been wonderful, and I’m very thankful for every opportunity I’ve had here. Rob Frankenberry was the first professor I met at the University of Pittsburgh and I thoroughly enjoyed his musical theatre classes. I’m also very thankful to take lessons with him as he’s an amazing instructor. Honestly, I’ve found all the faculty to be incredible. Gianni and Annmarie are wonderful and I just recently had the honor of working with Cindy Croot on Hair which was a magical experience.
Have you received any professional opportunities, internships, awards, grants or other distinctions we can recognize?
This year I had the honor and privilege of working on the new ABC series Downward Dog as a recurring background office worker. The show is currently being featured at Sundance and will be premiering in the Spring of 2017! It was an incredible opportunity and a wonderful learning experience which I contribute to being at Pitt. There aren’t many opportunities like this in Wyoming and the fact that it’s a major network production is just insane to me. Seeing the behind-the-scenes of television was an awesome learning experience and it definitely reassured me that theatre was the right choice for me, as well as allowing me to explore another facet of acting.
Can you describe a favorite show or production experience? What do you hope to achieve through theatre work, and what are your plans and dreams beyond Pitt?
Every show I’ve worked on at Pitt has been amazing. Every experience has been new and exciting and no two directors have been even remotely similar. I have learned so much working with the directors and teaching artists and these have been some of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I think new theatre work is open-minded and up for interpretation and can be a great educational tool.
My dream after Pitt is to eventually get to Broadway. This will understandably involve a lot of hard work and dedication, but I think my connections at Pitt will really help me on this path.
Any words of wisdom for incoming students?
My advice for new or perspective students is to be passionate about what you do. If you hate what you’re doing and hate going to class, you aren’t going to go. If you wake up each day excited to do it and excited for what you’re going to learn you’re on the right path. I’m not saying everyday you’ll be excited to go to every class; I’m saying you have to love the goal that you’re working towards. Don’t do it for the money; don’t do it for fame; don’t do it for your parents. Do it for yourself. I have a favorite quote… “There a little kid in the audience who wants to be just like you when they grow up. Don’t let them down.” You can apply this to anything and any major. There may be somebody watching you at any time and they could be inspired. Make sure you’re worthy of this inspiration.