Today I’m concluding my interview with Corrie Eddleman, Assistant Professor of Acting at North Greenville University. She holds a BS in Theatre and Speech Communication from Hannibal LaGrange College and an MFA degree in Acting from Illinois State University. A member of Actor’s Equity since 1999, she has worked professionally off Broadway and across the mid-west. Her training includes work at the Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford, England), The National Theatre Institute and the Chautauqua Theatre Conservatory. She has also studied Alexander, Michael Chekhov and Laban techniques. In addition to teaching, acting and directing on campus she directs the Act Two traveling drama ministry team. She is married to Matthew, a hospice chaplain with Spartanburg Regional. Their favorite hobby is spoiling their English Bulldog, Harley.
LeAnne: Tell me about Act Two, the traveling drama ministry team you direct.
Corrie: Act Two is made up of five female and five male student actors who travel on the weekends to perform at churches across the state. They perform Sunday mornings and evenings and sometimes have the opportunities to work with youth groups on Saturday nights. We all meet a week before classes start in August as sort of our “boot camp” week. During this time, we put up the program that we will be working with all year. Usually we develop a series of short sketches with a common theme that lasts anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes in length.
I am very excited about next year’s program. We decided to produce a one-act play on the life of Job. It is a play that starts out in present day with a married couple who is dealing with a lot of the same issues and problems that Job faced. Then we jump back to the actual Job story and finally circle around to present day once again. We will also work up sketch material to have on hand as alternative choices. I have been blessed with hard-working students who have big hearts for God. They want to use their gift of acting/theatre to minister to the church and to people who do not have a relationship with God.
LM: As an acting teacher, what two or three things do you want your students to know or understand when they leave the program?
CE: I attended a chapel service a few weeks ago in which we had a choir come and sing for the entire hour. The last song they sang had a chorus that stated: “Go in peace, Live in grace, and trust God’s love.” This is what I want my students to know and understand as they leave the comfort of the university and enter the real world.
We as Christians have been given an amazing gift of Peace. Not a peace as Man understands, but a Peace that passes all understanding and we need to 1. Remember and find comfort in that Peace and 2. Share that Peace with those who are hurting. We also need to remember that Grace truly is an amazing gift. I am humbled when I reflect on His Grace and the love He has shown me. Trust in God’s Love… easier said than done a lot of times. To imagine that the Creator loves me… me, the beautifully flawed human… is just hard to comprehend at times. But, when I do trust and believe in His Love, I am free.
In regards to acting and theatre, I want my students to let go of the idea of right and wrong. I don’t want them to think of a performance as trying to get the character “right”. I want them to explore in rehearsal and throughout the performance run. To understand that freedom will help break down the actor’s barriers so that s/he will allow her/himself to be more vulnerable and honest through her/his character. To let go of the end result and to enjoy the journey will aid the actor creatively, intuitively, and will also help alleviate stress and pressure (which leads to more fun!).
LM: Have you faced challenges in the world of theater because of your faith? Have you been able to blend your faith and your acting? How?
CE: I can’t recall a time in which I was challenged because of my faith. I have had many moments in rehearsals or performances in which I have grown closer and sometimes farther away from God. I have been able to blend my faith and acting. Faith to me is about trusting and believing in the truth. Acting to me is about seeking the truth. Sometimes that truth is beautiful and sometimes that truth is ugly. If I agree with what a play is saying then I have no problem playing the “evil” or hell-bound character. When I was in undergraduate school, I was sweating over whether or not I should become an actor because I might encounter some foul language or questionable behavior. My mom asked me if I’d have any problem playing Bathsheba in the story of David. At that moment it all clicked for me. Let’s get past the “right and wrong” behavior. Let’s focus on the message and what we can learn from the character and from the play. Let’s focus on relationships. The Bible is full of immoral behavior; it is also full of truth. The Bible is full of beautiful and ugly stories… so is my life, my very real, honest life.