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Hammer

Austin Hammer
Yale School of Drama
2016
Statement of Purpose
Huddled around three laminate folding tables lined up in the center of
a large black box theatre under the fluorescent work lights, fourteen
undergraduate students and two faculty professors began the table read of a
new play based on Aeschylus Oresteia trilogy. Each actor, nervous and
excited, jumped at the opportunity to say their lines, from the fourth year
seniors, with their meaty monologues, to the ensemble and chorus
freshmen. It was my first major college production, and I soaked up every
word that each of my fellow actors said as we read through the first act. I
had only one line, I did not think the play was any good, and I doubted the
talents of everyone in the cast, myself included, but it didnt matter I was
happy to be in a show, with people who wanted to be there. I was happy to
be creating theatre. What would happen during this read-through would
change my life and outlook on theatre forever.
After a dreary first act read-through by us amateur actors, the stage
manager told us to take ten, most of the actors went outside to chat, the
director went to use the restroom, and a frightened faculty writer - the writer
of our script frantically scribbled down notes on her script. She probably
thinks were terrible I joked under my breath to Jake, my only friend in the
cast. More like she realizes her writing is terrible! Say What!? Ay!? Jake,
ever the bro, jokingly responded. I shamefully and guilty giggled under my
breath. In hind sight, we were probably both right.

Hammer

The director walked back to the head of our makeshift table with a
worried smile on her face, she knew she had her work cut out for her. Lets
continue with our read-through she said, trying to withhold her own
displeasure. The read-through continued, and the desperate and stiff
melodrama from us actors followed. Jake and I were so bored that we almost
forgot to say the few lines that we had. The director grew increasingly
uneasy.
Across me sat a blonde and quirky yet pretty senior girl name Bronte,
playing the strong and faithful princess Iphigenia. The scene we were reading
was an adaptation of the famous myth in which the father Agamemnon
sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia to Artemis in order to help his ships sail to
Troy. The cast was half asleep, with the writer biting her tongue as the climax
of her latest work rolls off the tongues of this rag-tag band of inexperienced
actors.
In the midst of this nothing, Bronte yells out Father! No! with
command and despair. Tears roll down her face as she delivers her last plea
for life as her father sacrifices her for his own glory. Immediately, the entire
cast snaps to awareness, watching the real tears stream down Brontes face,
as her gasps for air stress the sacrifice and pain her character must feel as a
pawn in her fathers war game. Brontes performance mounts and builds with
resonance: suffering and yet devout love for her father pour out of this
young actress. Her voice reverberates around the empty black-box theatre.
She pleads for the strength of those around her, as she tries to accept her

Hammer

grim fate. She takes a pause before her last line as she is executed by her
father. Silence fills the room. Everyone is stunned. Then, a quiet whimper of
the first, once-yelled line Father! No! comes from Iphigenia. Father. No,
she whispers one final time before she dies. Everyone stares at the actress
with wonder, surprise, and even envy as she humbly sinks into her chair, as
the tears in her eyes dry and as she returns to her non-character self.
From then on, the read-through changed. The cast, even the most
inexperienced actors, said their lines with more intent and nuance than their
previous stone-faced or melodramatic tones. The stage manager read the
stage directions with a conviction never before seen. Everyone upped their
game. Theatre was being created. The director grinned as the final moments
of the play started to take shape. As the final page was turned, the director
smiles at the cast, and says The bar has been raised. Nothing more,
nothing less. The stage manager declares our first rehearsal over, and the
actors, full of renewed excitement, and even a bit of envy, chit-chat on their
way out of the theatre.
As I stood in disbelief in the center of the empty large theatre, I vowed
that regardless of the show or role I am cast in, regardless of the talent level
of myself or my peers, that I would strive to inspire those around me. I want
to do what that actress did to our cast, what she did to me: overcome our
fears in pursuit of dramatic truth. In the search of that dramatic truth, she
created a moment of enormous possibility. I reckon that this magical, often
indescribable moment of enormous possibility is why most dedicated actors

Hammer

do theatre. I know it is why I do theatre. It is also why I want to attend to the


Yale School of Drama. The classical and technical training that Yale provides
will challenge me to overcome my fears and teach me skills beyond the
levels of any other MFA program in the country. But more importantly, I want
the class of 2019 to push me as an actor, as a person, to confront my own
fears. And I want to push and spire them, as the ebb and flow of our
ensemble creations build each other up for the challenges that an actor must
face. I want to create theatre with such like-minded peers at Yale in the fall of
2016 and I believe my curiosity, sensitivity, intelligence and desire to strive
for that dramatic truth, that enormous possibility, would make me a great fit
for the next class at the Yale School of Drama.

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