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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Former ‘Theatre Players’ Club Founder Writes About Managing Passions

Burke balances a life in the theater and life working in an ecology lab.

Burke balances a life in the theater and life working in an ecology lab.



Performing has taught me how to be confident in myself. You have to learn to be able to fully commit to putting yourself into the piece. You must be comfortable with being vulnerable and exposing your soul to total strangers.  

Performing, whether it is music, dance, ice skating or theatre, provides a safe place to let out your inner creativity. There are not many hobbies that allow you to open yourself up and touch upon emotions which we censor in everyday life.

In my junior year of high school I was picked to be a captain of the cheerleading team, but I turned down the opportunity in order to participate in a drama festival as a crew member. I knew I made the right choice. 

My parents were disappointed that I gave up the opportunity to follow in my older sister’s footsteps of being a cheerleading captain, but I knew my heart just wasn’t there.

After showing my loyalty to the drama club and discovering how deep my passion for theatre was, I started to land bigger roles. I later joined the Stoneham Theatre’s professional education program.

I was selected to join their Resident Youth Ensemble (RYE) after my first show with the program. The RYE is Stoneham Theatre’s advanced youth acting company. I began getting lead parts in the rest of my high school and Stoneham Theatre Young Company productions after that.

After graduating high school, my parents made it very clear that I needed to study for a lucrative career. This meant that I would need to give up the hobbies I had in high school in order to focus on school.

In spite of their doubts, I continued my involvement with theatre and got a job working at the Stoneham Theatre box office.  I also created my own drama club as a freshman at UMass Boston known as The UMass Theatre Players.

The UMass Theatre Players have performed two student playwright festivals, a Christmas benefit and a Chile/Haiti benefit concert. We also performed at a Haiti benefit for Haitian Girl’s schools.

I have now performed in two professional productions at the Stoneham Theatre - 42nd Street and It’s a Wonderful Life, and I am about to start rehearsals for my third show, Thoroughly Modern Millie, in March. I am also a cast member of the web series Super Townie, and I have worked as an extra in the film Here Comes the Boom.

I graduated from UMass Boston with a BS in Biology, and I managed to continue performing while working in the Freshwater Ecology Lab at UMass. I completed my honors thesis defense on the effects of land use on water quality and became a member of two honors societies.

My future career goals may not revolve around the performing arts, however, I know that I will never give it up as a hobby. I hope to someday land a role in a movie and a professional theatre production. It would be incredible to have a career in performing and to also be able to work in science.