This week, 23-year-old method acting student Trent Westin performed a scene for his classmates where he portrayed the character of Treplev in Chekhov’s The Seagull. Despite a successful portrayal of an infamously challenging role, this method actor still struggles to get in the headspace of the actresses coming forward who’ve been sexually harassed.
“For this role, I used empathy to understand how a man could bring himself to commit suicide over unrequited love,” says Trent. “After The Seagull, I feel like I could find a way in to just about any character, though I’m honestly having trouble understanding how the hundreds of actresses out there who’ve endured sexual harassment feel.”
Despite being unable to emotionally identify with any of these women, faculty members have praised Westin for his transcendent performances on the University’s mainstage.
Trent’s tenured acting professor, Franklin Drugan, explains that his student used Stanislavski’s “as if” method where an actor takes experiences from his own life to bring himself closer to the experience of the character.
“He worked tirelessly to get in the head of an alcoholic in 1950s Mississippi dealing with physical pain from his ankle injury and let me tell you his portrayal was haunting,” says Drugan. “Yet when one of his female classmates wanted to have an in-class discussion about the sexism she faced with casting agents, Trent wasn’t able to relate to her devastation.”
Sources close to Westin confirm that the issue isn’t that he doesn’t care, it’s simply that he has no entry point to relating because he’s never been faced with anything besides praise and respect.
“One time I really wanted to be cast as The Emcee in Cabaret and didn’t get it,” says Trent. “So I tried to use my emotional memory to conjure a rage similar to my classmate’s. But then I remembered that after I didn’t get Cabaret I got cast as Tony in West Side Story and my faith in the business was restored.”
Women close to Trent have hope he finds a way to relate to a woman who’s been harassed, so that he can be an ally to them in the industry.
“Trent is a gifted actor and will do great things,” says Caroletta Ricardo, Westin’s classmate. “I just hope he doesn’t spend his whole life unable to support women because he has no ability to relate to the disrespect they’ve faced.”
At the conclusion of this interview, Westin got an email notification on his phone and opened it excitedly.
“YES,” screamed Westin. “I just got cast as Hamlet! I can’t wait to get in the head of a guy haunted by his father, plotting the death of his uncle whose abusive actions lead to his girlfriend killing herself!”