Jamie Krause practices in the Bethel Theater Jan 21. Krause digs deeper, past the lines to connect to the character he is about to portray.

Acting like yourself

Jamie Krause got peer pressured into acting, which became the best way for him to play the role of himself authentically.

By Sara Caldwell | Entertainment Reporter

Jamie Krause walks into the Bethel Theater, a graveyard of plays past, wearing a faded blue T-shirt, black down vest and dark brown pants that sit just a few inches short of his black tennis shoes. In the open room surrounded by black walls, discarded props sit collecting dust. A green sofa with fringe and a large flower print, old dust covered suitcases, and a tree shoved into its crinkled cardboard box. A diorama of how the set is going to look sits in a chair in the front row looking at the area that will one day be transformed to look like him.

Krause stands in the middle of the large room with the director, Meg Zauner, sitting in the second elevated row of seats. Staring down at him, she explains how she wants the scenes to look. Cutting him off almost every line to give him advice.

Krause holds nothing back as he becomes the character, speaking his words as someone else would. But just as easily as he can pretend to be this other person, he drops back to being himself every time the director stops him or has a question.

Growing up, Krause was into theater just as much as any kid who got forced into dressing up as an angel or shepherd in small church plays. In his senior year, his friends convinced him to try out. He ended up with roles in three of them. Even though they were small roles he “had a blast.”

When Krause started college, he again felt scared out of doing anything that involved acting. People who acted in college were ready for the next step. Not him.

The theater department put on the play Measure for Measure the spring of his sophomore year. Shakespeare intimidated Krause. But his friends endlessly talked him into trying out.

“Once again I just had a ton of fun,” Krause said, remembering back to the time he took another shot. At that moment he had “wondered why [he] hadn’t been trying out for every play.”

Junior year, he tried out for every acting opportunity. All the plays and all the senior projects. “There was a lot of acting going on that year,” he says.

Krause didn’t realize how nervous he got until his first college play. One time, he had been jumping and dancing through the whole play without noticing. Of course other people took notice and later made a joke out of it.

“Theater people are the weirdest people.” — Jamie Krause, actor

His jumping and dancing nerves have subsided quite a bit since the first stage but stress still remains. So every day, he squeezes in a run, the best way for him to unwind and leave the stress behind. When his day becomes too full to fit one in before midnight, he goes out at 2 a.m., even if that means coming back with a completely frozen beard.

“Theater people are the weirdest people,” Krause said.

Once the embarrassment has been put away the real acting begins, learning that is the key to acting.

“It changes the way you think things are embarrassing or silly,” he said. “Because so many people have gotten that through to me, I think it’s a lot easier to talk to people and to, ironically, be yourself.”

Fiddler on the Roof: the best example of a good time on stage. Krause said the spring production was “the most fun [he’s] ever had acting.” During the farce, people were running around, including Krause and others chasing each other around the stage and out into the hall.

“I absolutely loved it,” he said.

With an upside usually comes a downside: creative difference. This can create a few sour practices. But once they have gotten over it, it brings them closer together in a way that makes the production something more to them than just lines they have to memorize.

“[You] want to be able to show what is real, you don’t want to paint over what is real, you don’t want to water it down so it is easier to digest.” — Jamie Krause, actor

Zauner, Bethel theater professor and director, has helped Krause to see past just what a character says, to go beyond what they are saying and get in their head.

How they act and carry themselves, “little things I wouldn’t have thought about before I came to Bethel,” he said. He learned how to walk not as himself but as the character during a play, learned the different little quirks.

“Meg has been spot on, changed the way I look at acting,” he said. “It’s not just about memorizing lines any more.”

Now it was about finding a connection to the character, a way to put himself into the same mindset.

“It is a way to understand them. I, it is something you have in common.”

An actor cannot help someone else with their “doubts, fears, or worries… until you imagine what that’s like.” One way they use theater is to, “portray the concept challenges of real life.” Theater puts plays on that connect to people who can see what the out come is on the stage. They “want to be able to show what is real, you don’t want to paint over what is real, you don’t want to water it down so it is easier to digest,” Krause says, “you want it to be authentic.”