Student Spotlight: Emma Orme '15

by Gina Campanelli | 9/29/14 4:19pm

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by Trevelyan Wing and Trevelyan Wing / The Dartmouth

As musical director of the Rockapellas, co-president of the Glee Club and an actress in many of Dartmouth’s main stage and student-run productions, Emma Orme ’15 is a familiar face around campus. The theater major and French minor is immersed in the arts inside and outside of the classroom.

Even before she enrolled, Orme knew she wanted music and theater to feature prominently in her Dartmouth experience.

“The people that I meet through theater and music,” she said, “are the people that are opening up my eyes and my brain.”

Orme attended St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, a K-12 school that emphasizes the arts in academic study and in the cultivation of a whole individual. Throughout her childhood, she acted in school productions, sang in professional children’s choruses and took private voice and music lessons.

Exploring the arts at Dartmouth was a foregone conclusion, she said. Here, they have been “homes” to her, she said.

“They’ve been the center, they’ve been the core that keeps me alive in all the other parts of Dartmouth,” she said.

This year, Orme said she is excited to mentor younger students, especially new members of the Rockapellas and classmates in the theater department. She said joining an a cappella group and Glee Club gave her a sense of community almost immediately after arriving, an experience that she said she hopes to help facilitate for new members.

This role, she said, is a responsibility, and it encourages younger members to keep participating. She said the community is “half the reason” students keep participating in theater and music.

Orme also took part in the “Your Class, Your Words” event during orientation for members of the Class of 2018, where upperclassmen read excerpts from incoming students’ admissions essays.

Nathaniel Graves ’13, who sang in Glee Club with Orme, described her as compassionate and dedicated to the arts, encouraging other students to become involved in the arts if they weren’t already. Graves and Orme produced a collaborative show between Glee Club members and prospective students at Dimensions last spring.

Graves described Orme as “a driving factor” in groups where she held leadership positions. Her passion and care, he said, are apparent.

“All of that comes out in her expressive nature, as she sings, and in all of the projects and organizations she is a part of,” he said.

Orme’s credits include roles in Dartmouth’s main stage production of “Spring Awakening” in February as well as parts in student-run productions of “Cabaret” in spring 2013 and “The Lifers” in fall 2012.

Her next role will be a female leads in contemporary playwright Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).” Set in 19th-century New York City, the play tells the story of a doctor who treats female patients for hysteria using a newly invented technology, the vibrator, and includes commentary on period gender dynamics.

The play was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play in 2010, among other awards. Theater professor Jamie Horton is directing Dartmouth’s production, which will premiere Nov. 7.

Horton called Orme an “exemplary student.”

“She has shown real talent and discipline in her acting work,” he said. “She cares deeply about what she does and about theater. This is a wonderful role for her.”

Orme described her part as the doctor’s wife as an “unbelievable opportunity.” Her character, she said, is both relatable and a complex part to play.

“It is one of the meatiest female roles I have ever read,” she said.

Horton, who taught Orme for two classes her freshman year, said he recognized that Orme was talented and disciplined during their initial interactions. Horton also led the theater foreign study program to London, which Orme attended the summer before her sophomore year.

“Right from the beginning I knew that there was not only natural talent there, but a really bright, disciplined individual,” Horton said.

Theater professor Dan Kotlowitz, who also led the program, said Orme was one of just two first-year students accepted that year. He recalled that she displayed a level of commitment and maturity necessary to succeed on the trip, which includes rigorous upper-level theater classes as well as frequent rehearsals.“She’s got a great presence,” Kotlowitz said.

When asked about her future plans, Orme said they will involve the arts, though she is unsure of specifics. In addition to acting and singing, she is interested in directing, theater administration and journalism.

“In my ideal world, I will be in theater in a capacity that allows me to be an actor, a director, a dramaturg, a media writer, a musician.” Orme said. “I feel comfortable saying that I will figure that out along the way.”