It’s good to be a part of something dynamic and exciting again. When I was an undergrad at the University of Tennessee, I liked to keep myself busy. I got involved with environmentalists, progressive activists, artists, musicians, and writers. I discovered acting, and became a performer. This, while double majoring in Anthropology and English. I wanted to do everything, be everything for everyone. So, I had no free time. It was a great- I’d recommend it to anyone. True, I made plenty of mistakes while I was at it; there were times I fell flat on my face or stuck my foot in my mouth. I was taught some difficult lessons. But I learned, and I got better. I was giving myself a future. I didn’t know it, though: I just wanted to DO stuff.
I graduated in 2013. I was anxious. Not surprising—I had been taught to be fearful of the real world, often by trusted advisers with good intentions. But now I know I needn’t have been intimidated. Because I knew what I wanted, I knew what made me happy. I had a passion for performing, for storytelling. It was inside of me, in an embryonic state, but very there and very real, all the same. I may be a cynic by conditioning, but I am romantic at heart, and romantics don’t give up on what they love, even in spite of the warning signs, and all the obstacles, all the ghosts chasing after you in the form of “good advice”. You ignore all that. You just do it.
And I did it. I kept performing. I persisted with blind faith, and my loyalty is paying off. I know what I am: a working actor, regularly performing with local film and theatre companies who have kindly let me be a part of what they do. And, I know what’s next: I’ve been given a chance to be involved with a group that advocates and nurtures the things that I love, in a community that I love.
Thank you, SAFTA. Now, enough about me, let’s get this show on the road…
Erik Schiller is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he received his BA in Anthropology and English, with a minor in Theatre. He has been performing in live stage and film productions in Knoxville since 2009, working with local companies that include the Clarence Brown Theatre, Yellow Rose Productions, and Badland Pictures. In addition, he has served as Secretary for All Campus Theatre at UTK, is a founding member of the guerilla theatre troop Shakespeare Unauthorized, and has had poetry published in the Phoenix Literary Arts Magazine