Bradwell Institute alumna and Georgia College senior English major Natalie Sharp recently made her stage debut in the school’s production of the Neil Simon dramatic comedy “Proposals.”
Sharp portrayed Clemma, a complex character who narrates the story while coping with her own personal relationship drama.
“I would describe Clemma as witty, wise, strong and vulnerable all at the same time,” Sharp said. “Within the Hines family who employ her, she functions as the glue that holds everyone together even as she and various members of the family endure personal dilemmas over the years.”
The first-time starlet even tackled hurdles in taking the Georgia College Theatre Department role.
“I think that my biggest challenges have been aging myself appropriately — Clemma is 47, and I am, well, not — and adding depth to a character who was not necessarily written to possess as much of it as some of the other characters in the play,” Sharp said.
During her time at school in Hinesville, Sharp had some interest in performing arts and was involved with the Panther drama club to a limited extent.
After high school, Sharp ventured to Georgia College in pursuit of a degree in English and satiated her performance desire through alternative means.
“Most of my previous performance experiences are as a performance poet, and I have to say that acting is a completely different creature,” Sharp said. “Learning someone else’s words and then personalizing them differs quite a bit from performing something that I’ve written based on my own notions and experiences.”
Sharp credits the play’s director, Iona Holder, as her greatest performance influence.
“She saw potential in me even when I was a freshman at Georgia College just taking a theatre class to fulfill core requirements,” she said.
Holder persistently encouraged Sharp to step outside of her comfort zone and audition for one of the Theatre Department’s productions.
“I had the pleasure of recognizing the undeniable talent that Natalie possesses when she was a freshman in my theatrical heritage class,” Holder said. “Her remarkable dedication and intelligence were not forgotten, and when I saw her a couple of months ago, I was quite pleased that she was interested in auditioning.”
Despite being a first-timer, Sharp the experience was one she wanted to capture before graduation.
While the art of acting involves becoming someone different, Sharp would argue that she and Clemma are not entirely disconnected.
“I definitely see traces of myself in Clemma Diggins,” Sharp said. “I really identify with her intelligence and sharp wit as well as her softer side, the side that is vulnerable to the pain of an absentee spouse. The nurturing aspects of her personality also relate to me personally.”
And the production experience also has lessons applicable to other roles in life.
“I think I will be much more aware of my body and what every part of me is doing,” Sharp said. “Part of what I have learned from Iona is that every action in a performance should be controlled. Otherwise, our random twitches and forced tension can subtract from our portrayal of a character.”