Student Spotlight: Chris Gallerani '15

by Hallie Huffaker | 5/26/15 5:27pm

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Chris Gallerani ’15 explored gender and sexuality in his senior thesis project #werq.
Source: Alice Harrison/The Dartmouth Staff

Upon the advice of an upperclassman, Chris Gallerani ’15 took “Acting 1” with theater professor James Rice his freshman fall, not realizing that it would change his course at the college toward theater. Four years later, Gallerani performed his senior thesis “#werq: a queer journey” on May 1-3, a solo production of over an hour where he bared his soul, and his body, to the audience.

“I had been thinking for a while about wanting to culminate what I had learned both as an actor and as a playwright,” Gallerani said. “There were experiences I’ve had at Dartmouth and growing up that I really wanted to share with people. I wanted to bring those to light and talk about sexuality and gender.”

Gallerani said that he relied on the support of three professors during his thesis process — theater professor Aaron Thomas sent him papers on queer theory to help with research, Rice gave him acting notes and comments on the production and theater professor Irma Mayorga, a playwright, worked with him to compile his stories into a performance format and stage the piece.

The entire process was challenging, Gallerani said, but his advisors helped him through his doubts by saying that “any work that is worth doing should scare you.”

“There is a certain vulnerability to doing something that you are unfamiliar with,” Gallerani said. “That vulnerability is what makes really great theater and great art, but it makes it difficult to do.”

Gallerani said that one of the biggest challenges in doing the show, besides one scene involving nudity, was adapting his story to the stage in a way that the audience would follow.

“If it were up to me I would be talking about my feelings all the time and be having emotional moments, but the audience gets bored of that,” he said. “It was a big challenge for me because it was such personal material and I wanted to stay true to myself, but I was also talking about larger issues that I want people to see.”

Thomas, who first helped Gallerani with queer theory during the summer after his junior year, helped Gallerani cut out parts of the show to make it more accessible to the audience.

The goal of Gallerani’s production was both to share his story and also depict gender and sexuality in a new way for his audience. He said that he hoped to spark a discourse on “queerness.”

“People think they understand what gender and sexuality are, and after post-modernism and all of these post-structuralist movements there are all these new theories coming out that people really related to,” Gallerani said. “I wanted to give voice to people who feel like they don’t operate within a heterosexual dominated framework.

Stephanie Abbott-Grobicki ’15, a close friend of Gallerani’s who first met him when they were scene partners in “Acting 1” during their freshman fall and has since acted in a few plays with him, including “Spring Awakening” and “Blue Stockings,” said that she has enjoyed seeing his development as an actor.

“It was incredible to see his growth from this shy freshman guy to someone who could go up on stage and tell such a compelling story,” Abbott-Grobicki said. “I was so proud of him.”

Thomas called the performance “delightful.” He called Gallerani an “exciting performer.”

“He has ‘it,’” Thomas said. “Whatever ‘it’ is.”

Besides his work with the theater department, Gallerani has been involved with the Dartmouth Aires, one of Dartmouth’s a cappella groups, since his freshman fall.

Mike Boyas ’16, a member of the Aires, called Gallerani “one of the most important members of the group.”

“If I had to characterize his voice, it would be really soulful,” Boyas said. “He sings with a lot of emotion.”

David Clossey ’16, the Aires’ business manager, called Gallerani “one of the most musical people in the Aires.”

“He is one of the most prepared whenever we have rehearsals,” Clossey said. “When he learns a song, he puts his all into it and he is a really dedicated member of the group.”

Both members agreed that Gallerani is as essential to the Aires offstage as he is on. Gallerani was one of the first friendly faces both of them saw in the group when they joined.

Boyas said that after he transferred to the College for his sophomore year, Gallerani reached out to him, offering to get meals and help him adjust to campus.

“I know he’s going to do great things,” Clossey said. “He’s incredibly talented, he’s very driven and he’s a genuinely good person.”

Gallerani said that he has appreciated having a “core group of people” as a support system. He also appreciates the opportunities to travel that the group tours have offered, from a trip to China this past spring break to meeting President Barack Obama during his freshman year.

Gallerani said he will be doing an acting apprenticeship in the Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer before likely moving to Los Angeles in the fall to pursue an acting career.

The Last Word with Chris Gallerani:

Favorite late-night snack: cookies, especially Oreos and soy milk

Favorite band: Right now it’s probably Smallpools. I have a feeling “LOVETAP!” is going to be an important album this summer.

Favorite spot to relax on campus: Occom Pond next to the DOC House