Megan Orcholski is making her first appearance in a Theatre B show, playing Vivian in The Sweet New. Megan is a gender, communication, and performance studies scholar who is no stranger to performing. She has dedicated most of her adult life to studying performance in its various forms and sharing her knowledge with others. She’s a lover of food, cop shows, and life.
Theatre B (TB): Tell us a bit about yourself.
Megan Orcholski (MO): I grew up in a small town in Southern Wisconsin, went to college at a small liberal arts school in Chicago where I studied Arts and Speech Communication with a minor in English. I ended up deciding on a major after highlighting every course in the course catalogue that I would like to take, I had inadvertently highlighted every class that was required for the Arts and Speech Communication degree. I also have a master’s degree in performance studies from Minnesota State University Mankato. I moved to Moorhead to work at Concordia College, where I was an Instructor and the Assistant Director of Forensics. I’m currently an Instructor at Valley City State University in the Communication Arts department.
TB: What was your first performance experience?
MO: I was a member of the speech team in middle school. I distinctly remember the process of preparing my first Humorous Interpretation piece for speech in the 7th grade, after that I was hooked. The first play I was cast in was a production of Harvey, produced by a local community theatre; I was 16 at the time. I also remember playing Sorel Bliss in a production of Hay Fever where I wore a fabulous pants suit and spent the first 10 minutes of the play sitting on a couch. The pants suit matched the couch, it was great.
TB: How would you say performing has influenced your life?
MO: In countless ways. I’ve made a number of lifelong friends through my involvement in the arts (whether it be forensics, acting, studying performance, you name it). Performance Studies is where my interest really lies – I explain performance studies to folks as the point where communication and theatre meet and have a socially active baby. As humans we perform all of the time, which is what is so fascinating about Performance Studies as a field.
TB: What drew you to The Sweet New?
MO: Well, beyond my experience with performance, I’m also a gender scholar and consider myself to be a Trans* advocate. I’ve known Ray Rea since 2012 when he came to speak to one of my classes as a member of a Trans* panel I put together. The reading of the piece was on my birthday two years ago, after watching the piece I couldn’t help but think about how interesting it would be to see it fully staged. The piece itself touches on a number of my interests, so being involved in some way was really important to me. This is also the first year that I have had room in my schedule to commit to a production, and the fact that it ended up being this production is great.
TB: Do you have any Theatre B highlights?
MO: I remember watching a performance of Next Fall, there was a moment between Matthew and Colin that was so incredibly genuine, I don’t remember what the lines where, I just remember how remarkable the connection between the two of them was. It was like life onstage, I go to theatre hoping to witness moments like that. I attended Becky’s New Car later that season and was really taken aback by Maren Jystad-Spar’s performance. I had never met her before, but I stayed afterward to talk with her and the rest of the cast, and we became fast friends.
TB: What have you enjoyed most about working with Theatre B?
MO: Beyond the fact that I agree with their mission, the high quality of the work, and the fact that they produce strong, thoughtful pieces? The company is built on the best intentions, which has always been obvious to me, as a volunteer, a participant, and as a patron. B has always been welcoming to me, which is something I’ve appreciated it. Also, my costume in this piece is amazing, I don’t remember the last time I was fortunate enough to be costumed in something this lovely.