UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Kendra White Writes About Her Experience with Theatre Arts


Kendra White as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere, a role which earned her a nomination for the Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Musical Theatre Excellence



I knew when I was eight-years-old there were only two things I wanted to do for the rest of my life: eat the lunchables my mother forbid me from consuming, and make people laugh.

Fifteen years and many late-night rehearsals have reduced me to those now unholy Oscar Mayer juvenile food boxes, but the aspiration still remains.

When I arrived at UMass Boston, I was an English major with a theatre minor. Then I was without any major, and then I was a psychology major with a theatre minor. Then no theatre minor. Then the performing arts department posted auditions for their production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

I’d spent almost two years hiding behind books about the mind and ideas about how I should probably be living a small life helping others get through their own trivial endeavors. What I had no idea of was that I had been denying myself by giving up that which gave me faith. Theatre was therapy for me.

So I auditioned, and I was lucky enough to be cast in the role of Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere — the youngest and most politically aware of the spellers in the musical production. I couldn’t have loved working on this project more.

Thanks to my director, Carrie Ann Quinn, I was able to truly create a character that I could be proud of. My hard work paid off, and I, along with Brendan Paine, was nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.

That nomination could have gone to anyone — everyone in that production was a star. I later learned that I was also nominated for the Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Musical Theatre Excellence. I couldn’t wait to prepare. The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival would be fantastic.

I can’t litter this article with credits and names and nominations, because that’s not what makes theatre magical or important. Greatness isn’t in the number of lines or the length at which you held a note. The quality of the lights that hang over your head as you make your entrance, the state of the theatre you perform in, the number of people in the audience — those things are superfluous. The sidewalk can be your stage. Your younger sister can be your biggest fan.

The most useful thing I ever learned was not to strive to be better than the rest of the universe, but to find what you love and do what you love to the best of your abilities … and maybe that will pay the cable bill. I love performing because performing taught me how to love myself. Whether it be in a musical, straight play or the manner in which I traipse down the hallways of UMass Boston.


White will be performing in the upcoming Student Playwright Festival, March 6, 7 and 8th.  Look for her as Stella in The Old Metronome and as Barbara in Surprised