Emma Newman staff writer
When senior Max Love first joined Intro to Theater freshman year, he didn’t think that he would fall in love with performing.
More than three years later, he has now been accepted into the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, cast as the lead in the fall play Hamlet, and chosen to perform in a professional theater company called Projects with Jason. To expand his skills as a performer, Love has attended many theater classes and received help from drama teacher Karen (Kaz) Chandler and independent studies teacher Phillip Babcock.
After joining Intro to Theater, Chandler, who teaches the class, noticed that while he wasn’t committed to performing, he showed a surprising amount of dedication to the class. She appreciated that he did all his homework, and she started recognizing his talent.
“I tried to find opportunities to push them a little bit without scaring him because he wasn’t committed to the process. He wasn’t committed to being an actor at all,” Chandler said. “I thought, this kid’s got something he doesn’t know.”
During his time in the program, he began to gradually become more invested in the program.
“It’s not something I sought out really. It just sort of happened naturally,” Love said. “I fell in love with the whole process and I got hooked ever since I started.”
When Chandler noticed his improved acting skill and dedication, she cast him as the lead in his sophomore play, Including Shooter. While she admitted that another student had an impressive audition, she thought that Love was more dependable.
“I had a senior girl [who] was going to be TA in the class, and she was like, ‘Oh my god, did you see how good that one audition was?” Chandler said. “I said, ‘Yeah, but I need the consistency that I know I will get from Max. I know he’s super directable. Trust me on this.’”
Some people were unhappy with Chandler’s decision — until they saw Love perform at practices.
“Once we started rehearsing in September, or August when we came back, everybody was like, ‘Oh, damn, called that one, didn’t ya,’” Chandler said.
After the play, Love went up to Chandler and told her that he wanted to be a professional actor.
Acting hasn’t always been easy for him, though. One year, he attended a Shakespeare competition that he ended up not being chosen for. However, this ended up pushing him to become a more hard-working actor.
“I worked really hard for it,” Love said. “I did a monologue, and Kaz helped me a lot on it but I didn’t move forward. That was tough, but [it] actually motivated me more to work harder for the next year and the year after that.”
To improve on his skill, he attended “all” of the free theater classes referred to him by the theater department, according to Chandler. He also started working with Babcock to work on his performance mindset.
“We talked a great deal about the purpose-driven life as well as the discipline and dedication it takes to become successful, [about how] the only person that can stop you from being successful is yourself, [that] mental roadblocks present new opportunities to learn and grow, [and that] gratitude and humility are essential ingredients for success as well as determination and resiliency,” Babcock said.
Babcock taught him to be self-aware and to not focus on himself when performing.
“If we are to have a better world and make a lasting impact, we must learn to be empathetic, emotionally intelligent and self-aware,” Babcock said. “By focusing our energies on our higher calling and purpose instead of simply pleasing ourselves, we ignite our latent abilities.”
Babcock appreciated that Love was willing to dedicate himself to learning about how to perform in the right headspace.
“To his credit, Max was very proactive,” Babcock said. “He was also humble, teachable, and hungry to learn and grow.”
Throughout his journey, Love has also worked with Chandler. He often asks her for notes, and Chandler appreciates that he takes her comments well.
“He’s very humble as he approaches the work,” Chandler said. “To direct him, he doesn’t take it as criticism. He takes it as growth.”
Love is very appreciative of all the help Chandler has given to him.
“I am grateful and fortunate to have Kaz Chandler as my teacher and mentor because she taught me everything I know so far,” Love said.
With the help of his mentors, Love was able to become an accomplished actor. One of these successes was his early acceptance into the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. At the California Thespian theater competition, he was given the opportunity to audition. They let him in soon after he performed for them.
“My mom was sitting right next to me and I looked at [my acceptance], and my eyes brightened, and I showed her the email, and she screamed,” Love said. “I was very excited.”
He also auditioned for Projects with Jason, a theater company that Chandler connected him with. After auditioning, the group accepted him to perform in one of their newer plays titled Distance Learning, which is about “social issues.”
“It’s all students and one teacher and one student is African American, and he gets arrested by a cop for no reason, and we were all friends with him…[The] play is about coping with it and what to do,” Love said.
His biggest theater accomplishment in his eyes, though, was being cast as Hamlet.
“It has been my dream for a while, so I’m very grateful for that,” Love said.
His successes have allowed him to become a “role model” to his fellow performers, according to Chandler
“It’s that everybody looks up to that and goes, ‘I want to be like that. I want to do that. I want to be that good,’” Chandler said.
While Love thinks he has improved as an actor, he still acknowledges he has room to grow.
“I know that acting is an ongoing process and I look forward to continu[ing] learning and to work[ing] on my craft,” Love said.
Babcock thinks that his path to improvement is the reason he will be successful one day.
“Max’s abilities continue to expand,” Babcock said. “He is doing all the right things including a careful study of all the great performers from times long ago. I foresee great things ahead for Max. He’s got all the right stuff.”