Siobhan Reddy-Best ’13 just might be one of the busiest students at Vassar. “I don’t sleep. I wish that was a joke,” she said with a laugh.
Reddy-Best, a Victorian Studies major, has been heavily involved with student theater since her freshman year. She is the Vice President of the Philaletheis board, a member of Britomartis and is in Shakespeare Troupe. “Since I’ve been here I’ve done no less than two shows a semester at Vassar which has been incredible,” she said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could do a lot of student theater. That’s why I picked Vassar.”
Reddy-Best has found being involved with production boards to really elucidate the theater process for her. “It’s so exciting having people come and propose stuff to us, like I want to write my own script or I want to do a whole play without speaking, or a play where we blindfold the audience,” she said. “There’s a sense that you can make anything happen.”
Reddy-Best developed her love for acting when she was in fifth grade, and has not stopped since. Her classmate put on The Sherwood Diaries, and she had a role in the play. “I started taking classes at the Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence, which runs after school programs for kids and teenagers. But my mom has been taking me to plays forever,” she explained. “I just have been addicted. I can’t not do it.”
As a high school student, Reddy-Best had always envisioned herself at a conservatory pursuing a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Drama. But her mother, Chair of the English Department at Rhode Island College, encouraged her to attend a liberal arts school.
“That was one of three times my mother told me no flat out,” she said. “She told me I couldn’t do Irish step dancing, go to boarding school and do a BFA. I agree with her now. I didn’t when I was seventeen, but now I do,” she added.
Reddy-Best has found that she can refine her acting skills at Vassar while at the same time obtaining a classic liberal arts education. In fact, her Victorian Studies major has in many ways helped her better her art. “Because Victorian studies is multidisciplinary—it’s really one story from the whole 19th century—I’m looking at the same story through different ways of telling it, like history, literature or philosophy. That’s really helpful when looking at a play. We can look at a play from this method or this method to get from point A to point B,” she added.
She is in three different productions this semester, including Britomartis’ A Totally Real True to Life Play from April 18-20 in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater, Philaletheis’ TempODYSSEY which runs from April 25-27 in the Susan Shiva Theater as well, and Shakespeare Troupe’s production of Twelfth Night from May 10-11, performed outside in the Academic Quad.
To memorize all of her lines and keep track of her different characters, Reddy-Best has a few tricks up her sleeve. “Once a director told us to listen to a song or sound that resonates with you while you’re going through a script, so I like to do that. That sounds cheesy but it really works for me” she explained.
“Sound really helps me memorize lines, so if I can find an album or soundtrack that I feel really speaks to the play that helps. I have to know my lines. Having a script in my hand makes me really nervous and bad at what I do,” she said. Though Reddy-Best has also been involved with the production side of theater-making, she is first and foremost an actress. “I did a directing workshop and it gave me ulcers—not actually, but I was so stressed out the whole time,” she said with a laugh.
“It was very big picture, and I’m just not a big picture person. I like doing close readings and interpretations, but I do assistant directing at a theater during the summer, and that gives me an opportunity try it but with less pressure,” she added.
Reddy-Best is particularly drawn to plays that allow for a lot of experimentation, and plays that explore atypical situations. “I like plays with a lot of playfulness, excuse the pun. But I really like a play where there’s a lot of room to be silly and just have fun,” she said. “I really enjoy more heightened language or heightened circumstances. Anything that’s really outside of the norm of everyday life.”
Philaletheis’ upcoming production, TempODYSSEY, in which Reddy-Best plays Jenny, a temp worker who accidentally kills people and thinks she may be a black hole, does just that. “It’s bizarre. I’m obsessed with it,” she gushed. “It places mythology in the middle of corporate American, and it’s about feeling temporary and like you want to leave a mark but don’t know how.”
After graduation, Reddy-Best plans to take a year or two off to try professional acting, and then pursue a Master’s in Fine Arts in Drama at a conservatory. She already has a professional audition lined up in Providence the day after TempODYSSEY closes. “Ideally I’ll get cast, and then I’ll stay in Providence for a year,” she said. In the meantime, Reddy-Best is powering through all of her responsibilities at Vassar.
“There’s no time to be tired. It’s just all the coffee in the world—caffeine and powering through,” she said. “I’ll be writing my thesis in the back during rehearsal while people are working on other stuff. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”