Theater major calms down with art

Hunter Lyle – Reporter

For many students, at any age or grade, the stress of the school year, along with everything that comes along with it, may seem overwhelming and hard to deal with. There are various outlets and valves of relieving and relaxing. For Melanie Byron, her process is through the use of art.

“I have severe anxiety and once I go on to the stage, it goes away,” said the sophomore, theatre major. “Sometimes, my anxiety will stay away once I’m off. I’ll feel better.”

Like many ambitious folk, Byron’s passion for theater and arts began at a young age.

Byron said the arts have always been a part of who she is, and who she wants to be.

“I’ve been writing songs with my cousin since I was about four, then I went to theater camp when I was 10,” said Byron. “Then I was in my first full production when I was 13. Ever since then I haven’t not been in a show.”

Since her first performance, Byron has done shows in and out of school, at a variety of different levels. She performed in shows at Shelton High School in all four years she attended.

Byron said her biggest roles during high school were when she played Danielle in “Bring It On,” Ursula in “The Little  Mermaid,” and Abuela in “The Heights.”

After high school, Byron chose to continue to pursue her passion for theater at Southern.

“Theater fulfills me because really like to embody a bunch of different personas,” said Byron. “I like to entertain. I like to take everyone to another world because that is what I’m doing myself.”

In her latest performance, Byron played Morticia Addams in “The Addams Family,” which premiered at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts earlier this month.

“The Addams Family was my favorite show that I’ve been in,” said Byron. “I just had a great time. Loved my cast, loved my director. It was a great time.”

Byron and the rest of cast will be preforming the show once again in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. This annual festival is filled with performances from around the country, later in the year. She also plans to audition for “Doctor Faustus,” in the future.

Alongside her love for the theater, Byron also has a passion for drawing and painting, which she also finds therapeutic. She said that drawing acts in the same stress and anxiety removal way that being on stage does.

“That’s what my sketchbook is for. It’s for when I have anxiety and I have to draw how I am feeling,” said Byron. “It’s almost like a subconscious thing at this point. I’m not like, ‘I must make myself feel better,’ it is just what Ido.”

When she graduates in two years with her theater degree, Bryon said she just wants to be happy.

“I don’t think I should plan out my life, because that’s just setting yourself up for disappointment,” said Byron. “I’m just taking it day by day.”

Photo Credit: Melanie Byron

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