All the World's a Stage
Accents and voices. Keep on your toes, because Christian Smith Borgaard does these often (and well) in the course of a conversation. He's a natural showman, though it wasn't always a given that his calling would be to trod the boards.
"I'd never taken a high school drama course. I didn't think it was taken seriously enough, so I did community theatre, I did things on my own, I studied and read," he said.
But coming to LCCC and taking part in the theatre program opened his eyes.
"I had no idea what a drama course consisted of until I came here, so I was concerned it would be 'now you must become the greatest actor in the world and you will become art and everything wonderful,'" taking on the persona of an aging out-of-touch British actor.
Jason Pasqua, theatre instructor at the college and director of numerous LCCC productions, was the one who gave clarity to the challenge of acting.
"His approach was 'let's figure out more about you, see how you can become truthful in acting.' That blew my mind," Christian said.
Jason's style is intentional. "I've always prided myself on my approach, doing quality shows, strong collaboration as an ensemble," he said. "Christian is a part of that, part of culture where good things happen."
Christian has taken leading roles in the past two LCCC productions: Tom in the Tennessee Williams' classic The Glass Menagerie and Everyman in Pasqua's own adaptation of Everyman. Those roles earned Christian two separate nominations for the opportunity to compete for the Irene Ryan Scholarship at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. After the first nomination, Christian said that several colleges expressed interest in recruiting him to continue schooling there.
"But I don't want to. I love this too much. I don't want to go to a college program where I'm peeling imaginary bananas," as he deliberately mimes the activity that has become a stereotype of odd acting classes. "But I feel very honored."
By staying, he'll also be able to get his associate of arts in theatre from LCCC. This program option has returned and will be available starting this fall.
"With students like Christian and others, we now have the ability to do different kinds of plays," Jason said. "It expands the range of literature that can be done at LCCC."
With at least another year to go, Christian hopes to strengthen his acting skills. "I'd like to show that I've gone from the guy who's like 'okay, I kinda know how to do this, how to make my voice sound funny,' to being able to get a script in old English, being able to sort it out, to find the meanings of the lines. Once you know the meaning of the words, the intention..."
He trails off and breaks into a quiet, introspective version of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" monologue, thoughtfully considering each word.
Christian keeps busy with his education, his job, and his work on various productions, but he's found that LCCC gives him the chance to thrive in a way that he couldn't anticipate. "Whatever type of learning you want to have happen, happens. The environment nurtures all kinds of educational paths. I didn't know that until I came here."
He's keeping his post-college options open, but feels like he needs to be in Los Angeles. He has trepidation about such a move ("Call me a Wyomingite," he says) that turns into a playful improvisational bit as a westerner in the big city.
Christian's considering California because his true passion lies in film. "I love what the medium can do and how it brings a whole new characteristic to storytelling. With film and CGI, you can be anywhere, you can be anyone, you can do anything."
Even the recent production of Everyman integrated film, something that was received well by audiences and reviewers.
Not surprisingly, the conversation shifts back to the thrill Christian feels when he's exploring his craft. "You know what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. You learn how to be everybody. It's hard to hate people when you are them. It's a whole new level of understanding. That's why I act."