While most seniors spend their final months on campus perfecting their résumés and prepping for graduation, Lisa Ermel spent her senior year at Anderson University toning her acting chops. Her efforts were well rewarded, as Ermel was recently accepted into the prestigious Indiana Repertory Theatre and will debut in her first IRT show, Becky's New Car, on March 23.
The IRT is home to Indiana’s elite actors and actresses and serves as a great catalyst for aspiring actors, catapulting them to household names in the Indianapolis art scene.
Last summer, Ermel performed in Ronn Johnstone’s original Waiting With M. Godot. The play was showcased during the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a festival that allows underground actors to shine in the spotlight. The play was well received at the festival, earning the Best Show award.
Waiting With M. Godot opened numerous doors for all involved, particularly Ermel. After the show, Richard Roberts of the IRT approached her and encouraged her to audition for the theater company. Johnstone, director of theatre arts at Anderson University, recalls that this was the first time a student was approached by a member of the IRT. Ermel accepted the invitation.
“I had no idea what to expect in my audition,” said Ermel. “During my first audition, I was told to act in front of a panel. The character I played was assigned and I had no background of the character at all.”
The next day Ermel received an e-mail from the IRT’s artistic director asking her to schedule a time for a second audition. “I was blown away that I was asked to come back the second time; it was surreal,” said Ermel.
Although she was familiar with the audition process, she was much more nervous for her second audition. This time she was also auditioning for the artistic director of the IRT. As she walked in, she realized that the pressure was on. Ermel recalls around nine other women at the first tryout; three returned for the second.
The stress of the day only grew worse on the way home when Ermel was involved in a minor car accident.
“I have never been in any sort of car accident, so it was an awful way to end a stressful day," she said. "I took it as a sign, at the time, that the IRT maybe wasn’t in my future.”
[PHOTO: Lisa Ermel performs in Waiting With M. Godot at the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival.]
After all of the chaos, Ermel checked her e-mail that night. Her disappointment quickly turned to sheer excitement as she was notified of her acceptance.
Ermel then turned her focus toward finishing her last semester at Anderson University, where she graduated in December. She began rehearsals with the IRT in February.
Ermel plans to continue auditioning in the Indianapolis area. The IRT is the first stepping stone in what promises to be a successful career for Ermel. “Ultimately I hope to move to Chicago, maybe New York, to work as a professional actress,” she said.
Ermel also hopes to help others through her talent and passion for acting. “I would love to develop and work with art as a form of therapy,” she said.
— Joseph Matas is a junior from Anderson, Ind., majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Matas is an associate with Fifth Street Communications writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.