It was a friday night in high school and I’d recently told my photographer father that I also wanted to pursue a career in photography. It seemed possible to pay the bills this way and I loved designing photoshoots in our studio and actualizing them under his enigmatic tutelage. I savored opportunities to spend my lunch period in my school’s darkroom, dodging and burning my black and white photographs to balanced perfection. Distilling the constant motion of life into two-dimensional still images. Toying with people’s perception was a game that I desperately wanted to play for the rest of my life.
But it was this particular night, as I was heading out to a party at my friend’s house that caused me to reframe my own view of the world. My dad put my canon in my hand as I was walking out the door and said, “Bring your camera. If you’re going to be a photographer, you always need to have it with you”. It was at this party that I learned something clear about myself. I realized, my face tucked behind my lens, snapping away: if I was always behind the camera, I wouldn’t feel like I was at the party, I would feel like I was watching it unfold. It didn’t stop there: I wanted more than to be a party-goer, I wanted to be hosting it.
While I’d been writing ever since I could hold a pencil, pursuing a writing career didn’t fit into my new “active” life plan. So, from that moment on I threw myself headlong into my life long passion: acting. I could never give up the transformative power of playing pretend as a child, and I was ignited by the immediacy of creating a person in the moment. I always felt that actors were ushering you into their world, guiding you through the story to a new view.
Where once I looked are actors as the hosts of the storytelling world, I now see them as only a piece of a magical puzzle. Through my studies I learned that, for example, a film editor can change a character just as much as an actor can. The collaboration I’ve discovered in the world of film and theater is what makes it the powerful captivator it is. The longer I pursue my craft the more I learn that the behind-the-scenes passions of photography and writing that I thought I would need to surrender as a teen, are the pieces that strengthen the stories I tell. As I studied acting and the different techniques for creating a person I learned that whether you’re manipulating a still image, moving film, an expression or a line, you are still creating a dialogue with your audience that has the potential to initiate change.
Where once I believed I would have to choose between photography, writing, acting, activism… all of the pieces that can make an artist, I now know that the more ways I can find to tell a story, the more I can say. In my family have an expression: “Words are Power.” If a picture is worth a thousand words, and a person can tell hundreds of stories and capture thousands of pictures, than I have a lot left to say.
Rowan Hall grew up in Downingtown, PA “right between Philly and Amish”. It was in her wooded home town, surrounded by a family of artists and filmmakers that would remind her everyday that artists are valuable and necessary for our society to thrive. A classically trained actress with a BFA from AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts, she loves to act in everything from full-scale Shakespeare productions to quirky short films. When she’s not acting on stage or screen, Rowan can be found pursuing her love of photography or writing short stories and screenplays. Screenplay, a short film she wrote and starred in, was recently submitted to film festivals throughout the country.
She was last seen on stage in the 2016 LA Fringe Festival production of Night Witches, where she originated the role of Xandra. Her previous theatrical credits include A Gulag Mouse and Untethered; as well as numerous readings such as Jilt and The Mapmakers Lines are Crooked. She is a new associate member at Sacred Fools Theatre Company. Her independent film credits include: Mount Joy, Love Knows No Borders, as well as the film adaptation of Untethered. More at www.imdb.me/rowanhall