Emily Breeze ’14 seemingly does it all. Breeze can sing and is an alto in the Vassar College Choir. Breeze can act—and has acted—in anything from dramas to comedies. During this current semester alone, Breeze has served as playwright, director and stage manager. She even completed her senior thesis before October break—five weeks into the school year—becoming one of the first seniors to complete thesis work.
Breeze committed herself solely to acting, not venturing into directing, writing and singing as she does now, throughout her childhood. But upon getting to Vassar, Breeze had a change of heart—or so she thought.
“Once I got here I decided that I wasn’t going to do it, or try to do less of it,” said Breeze. “I wasn’t sure if I liked drama because I did it forever or because I actually enjoyed it. I tried taking classes in other departments; that failed miserably, so I declared a drama major. And then I really tried everything.”
Upon declaring her concentration, Breeze tested the waters of almost all aspects of theater. “One of my goals as a drama major is to do everything, so I stage managed, I took costume classes, I took a set design class, I tried writing. I tried to do everything that I could,” said Breeze.
Although Breeze seems to be a Jack of all trades in Vassar’s drama world, Breeze still managed to find her niche. “I figured out that I like directing because it’s sort of the combination of the best parts of acting—where you get to analyze the play and also do everything else,” said Breeze. “So you get to organize everything like a stage manager but you don’t have to deal with the technical parts. You get to work with designers, but you don’t have to deal with the stress of designing things, so I really love it.”
This semester, Breeze directed Jack Eubanks ‘17’s show titled “Beyond the Wall,” which he wrote himself. The play tackled the formidable topic of war and its effects. Although “Beyond the Wall’s” content was heavy, Breeze directed the show with unmatched precision and dedication, according to Eubanks. “Working with Emily on BTW was an exhilarating experience. She is just an amazing director and a consummate professional. She goes far beyond directing, though,” he said. “She delves deep into the world of the play and discovers and incorporates all these subtle details that many would miss to make a truly magical performance. Emily is a true dramaturge as well, researching every aspect of the script, ensuring its accuracy.”
Breeze’s range encompasses everything from the dramatic—“Beyond the Wall” tackled topics such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and death—to the absurd and comedic.
In regard to the humor end of her spectrum of talents, Breeze is the president of No Offense, Vassar’s oldest sketch comedy group. As such, the organization’s members do not only rely on Breeze’s stage presence but also her organizational capabilities. “She is one of our two fearless leaders and she is largely in charge of editing us and scheduling. This may sound mundane, but trust me, it’s not—it’s hard work to wrangle a bunch of comedy nut-jobs and make sure they’re producing their best work,” said Albert Muzquiz ’17.
As president, Breeze must also see No Offense on a larger scale. “She’s a great president of No Offense because she’s always considering the big picture,” said Sarah Zimmerman ’16. “A lot of us will only think about what will get the biggest laugh, but she’s always thinking beyond that. In her mind, our shows aren’t just about the jokes—they’re about the entire experience. That’s why Emily’s a great leader, and why we’re going to miss her a lot next year.”
For all the time spent organizing and creating comedy, Breeze’s involvement with No Offense was not always at her forefront. “I auditioned on a whim for all the comedy groups. It’s funny because when I was auditioning I thought, ‘Oh god, I’ll do anything except for No Offense,’ and No Offense was the only one I got into, but it ended being the best thing,” Breeze said.
While her scenes, which include pulling out bloody tampons and babies from her mouth in No Offense’s rendition of the Vagina Monologues, get huge laughs onstage, Breeze never knew that comedy would become a major commitment. “I really just auditioned because it was something to audition for. I never really thought of myself as a funny person before,” Breeze said.
“I knew that I liked to joke around and I was bad at being serious and having real conversations. It’s [gotten] me in trouble a few times, sometimes instead of being a normal human and having an appropriate reaction I will laugh…I didn’t think that would translate into anything useful, not that comedy is very useful, but it’s enjoyable.”
Although not a self-proclaimed comedian, Breeze’s ability to produce laughs has not gone unnoticed.
“Emily likes old-school comedy, which is great, but she is definitely willing to take risks,” said Muzquiz. “She was one of the people who helped get the themed show up and running and it was a great success. We had never attempted something like that before, but with her and Frank Hoffman’s guidance we were able to produce what I think was our best show yet.”
Adding to her skills, which make the term “triple threat” inadequate, Breeze has also been the choir librarian since her second year at Vassar and has traveled to Oxford, London, Paris and Tokyo with the choir. “Some of the best opportunities I’ve gotten is through choir,” Breeze said. “I’ve been on 2 international tours. I got to perform on the same stage with Meryl Streep for the 150th anniversary of Vassar College. It was for a show called Vassar Voices, and the big performance was in the Lincoln Center. The stuff I got to do because of the choir is insane.”
With such a full schedule, some might ask, “How does she do it?” Breeze’s answer to the conundrum? “I don’t sleep.”