After just one conversation with senior Rory Cushman, it is her passion for the stage which stands out the most.
From her explanation of the second residence that she has taken up in Brodie Hall to her list of favorite hobbies – acting, directing, designing, singing and dancing – her theatrical aspirations shine brightly. A musical theater major from Webster N.Y., Cushman has taken advantage of opportunities at Geneseo to develop a strong identity as a versatile thespian.
The beginning of Cushman's college career, however, was certainly not the start of her love for the stage. "I have been performing for as long as I can remember, if family parties count," Cushman said with a laugh. "We'd always do shows at Christmas for our grandparents. We'd go in the basement and choreograph dances." Cushman went on to dance and perform in shows throughout her school career.
She directed her first show, "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" at Hobart and William Smith College where she previously attended school. Now a more experienced director, she said her directing style "has changed so much. I do a lot more work for it now. I don't want to leave any piece out."
At Geneseo, Cushman participates in organizations such as Musical Theater Club, for which she has directed various numbers, Geneseo Dance Ensemble and chamber singers. She has also served on the production team for many recent Veg-SOUP performances including the Fall 2011 production of "Equus."
Cushman's next directing venture, "Stop Kiss," is a play that she calls, "a love story first and foremost, but not a typical love story." The play, which is currently in the rehearsal phase, is about the blooming romance between two women and what happens when harassment and discrimination get in the way.
"You get to see how the relationship grows and changes," she said. "Telling stories, making jokes, flirting, just like everyone else. When you get to the end of the story you see why it shouldn't be any different than a boy and a girl or a boy and a boy." She continued, "It's not in-your-face controversial. I think it's a subtle reminder of what humanity is about."
Although pursuing theater is famous for its trials and tribulations, Cushman has been able to keep going with the help of the many inspirational people in her life, particularly her grandmother.
"My nana, who just passed away, was one of those people who always said, ‘Just keep doing this. I love seeing you on that stage. I love my arts kids.' She was the reason that I ended up coming [to Geneseo]. She would always come and see whatever shows that she could."
Cushman's love of theater comes naturally to her and almost without explanation. "Theater is not just about entertaining," she said. "I love entertaining. I think of it as a way of doing things for other people and it brings me joy. But theater is also a learning experience. You learn more each time you do research for a show."
Cushman's production of "Stop Kiss" will take place in Robert Sinclair Theater from Feb. 9 – 11.