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    • Miller as Phebe in As You Like It. Photo by Peter Mahakian

    • Miller talking to fellow cast members. Photo by Joey Rebeschi ’21

Artist of the Issue: Leah Miller '20

Anand Choudhary '22 Assistant Arts Editor
Leah Miller ’20, member of the Hopkins Drama Association (HDA), has worked on 23 different productions since her first show as a seventh-grader.
Miller has been head of HDA since her junior year, along with Leul Abate ’19, and, presently, Corinne Evans ’20. As head of HDA, Miller organizes events like the Cabaret and the Haunted House. 

Miller has been doing theater for as long as she can remember. She acted in her first play at the age of five, a stage adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland," in which she played the Lazy Daisy. After that performance Miller said she “caught the bug for performing arts and [has] enjoyed it ever since.” Miller continued, “Once I got to Hopkins I was given the resources to really be able to do lots of drama year-round.” Being involved with each production since the seventh grade, Miller puts in her best effort to “make every show as much fun as it can be for everyone involved.” One of the most important things about theater to Miller is that “everyone feels included and that they can express themselves.” 

Miller’s favorite production she’s done at Hopkins is the student production "Almost, Maine," which she directed in the summer of 2019: “It was such an exciting opportunity to be able to direct a cast of my peers and ultimately come to a final product that we were all very proud of.” Also during the summer of 2019, Miller traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland with her fellow HDA members to partake in the Fringe Festival. For her, it was meaningful because she got to perform and see shows from all around the world: “It was such a valuable experience working in an ensemble of close friends, and it was pretty wild having an audience of strangers.”

When asked about some of her biggest challenges she has faced as an actor and director at Hopkins, Miller remarked, “It sounds pretty cheesy, but as an actor, it’s really important to connect with every character you play. You need to find a way to relate to their experience, even if it’s far from your own. I’ve definitely come across times in shows where I had a lot of difficulty trying to understand where a character was coming from.” She continued, “In the directing realm, it was a huge challenge to put together 'Almost, Maine.' Though it was ultimately rewarding, I hadn’t really experienced what it was like to be in charge of every single element of a show, which was incredibly daunting. I think that was when I learned the importance of delegating and teamwork in the theater; if you don’t have that trust, no show is going to be successful.” 

Miller has always been inspired by Tina Fey. “I think she is so cool, and she does it all. She is also such an improv superstar and just so dang funny,” she explained. Along with her celebrity inspiration, Miller was taken under the wing of Arts teacher, Hope Hartup: “Hope has been a real mentor for me throughout my HDA career, and she has definitely shaped how I act and direct.” Once Miller started to have more of an interest in directing, Hartup taught her about “how lights get set up, or what makes a good sound system, or how to work with different actors. I’m really grateful.” 

Along with HDA, Miller is also a part of the improvisational comedy group, Peaches. Miller said, “Even though Peaches meets once a week, ultimately every time we’re asked to perform we have no idea what we are going to present onstage. Improv is such a unique type of entertainment but ultimately very rewarding.” Though it took her some time to build up the bravery to “be able to stand in front of a bunch of people and do a silly accent or a cartwheel or something,” Miller considers improv an extremely important skill.

Reflecting on her time spent in HDA, Miller said that she’s come to appreciate the tremendous amounts of work that goes into putting on a show: “There are a billion pieces and they all come together as a collaborative effort; there is never one star carrying the show. I also realized that theater isn’t just fun and entertaining, but it is important and people need it.” Miller thinks that everyone should “have a taste of theater at least once in their lives. Whether it be taking a drama class, or being a part of a play or musical at some point in their lives, it’s such a rewarding experience.” 

To anyone interested in doing theater in the future, she says, “The more you put yourself out there, the more you learn and grow.” Miller plans to continue studying theater and film at Oberlin College. After college,  Miller’s dream job is to be a writer for "Saturday Night Live." “I think the intensity of putting on a new production every week is supremely theatrical, and the whole show is so aligned with improv comedy that it would be so fun to work there,” she says; to Miller, “when you love something, you’ve got to go for it.”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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