Surrounded by the stale exterior of her hometown, Emily Piper hoped to find a more inspiring environment for her college years. “Peabody, Massachusetts is not very attractive; it’s full of malls and big, ugly houses and big, ugly cars,” Piper laughs. Aside from that, Emily was looking for a place that would complement her deeply-rooted love for the performing arts.
“A lot of my love for the natural environment comes from my dad’s influence… he’s a landscaper. I used to play out in the garden with him when I was really little,” she says. “My mom really fostered the musical parts—I was in first grade when I started acting and in pre-school when I started dancing. I was always encouraged to work on being vocal since my mom was a singer.”
Soon her passion for the spotlight would take a more definite form. “I remember coming home from my first summer at theatre camp when I was little and being so upset that our show was over. That’s when my mom said I caught the bug—the theatre bug.”
Additionally, the second-semester junior caught the “Vermont bug” during her younger years. After vacationing in Vermont with her family, she fell in love with its natural beauty. Eventually, Emily would make GMC her home away from home—and for good reason. “I would have floundered in a big city; I wouldn’t be able to deal with being a number at my school,” she says.
Although the GMC performing arts program is small, Emily saw this as advantageous in its own right. “I knew that having a small program would benefit me in some way,” says Emily. Since coming to GMC, Emily has been in numerous plays and musicals—from her debut musical, The Last Five Years, to last year’s production of Our Town—all of which have touched her in their own way. “When it comes down to it, I deeply admire my peers. I learn something from everyone I’ve worked with… as long as I have that level of interpersonal learning with it, that’s why I never get sick of it.”
Emily has also been an outstanding addition to the GMC choir where she has performed in the Cantorion, conducted her first piece, and visited Wales. She recently shared her experiences in that country in an interview with the BBC.
It wasn’t just the opportunity to perform that motivated Emily to choose a liberal arts education. As epitomized by her warm smile and infectious laugh, her ultimate desire is not be in the spotlight, but to be in the company of other people. After completing her degree, Emily hopes to enter the helping professions. “I feel like I wouldn’t be happy if went into theatre as my profession; I feel like it wouldn’t feed my desire to help people in the way I would like,” she says. “To be an actress is to help people in a very different way.”
Emily is pursuing her degree in psychology and is interning at Poultney Elementary School. She will also be performing in the upcoming one-act play festival presented by the GMC Theatre Department. Whatever Emily does, she will be doing it in the spirit of her unofficial motto: “You have to feel comfortable in your surroundings and comfortable with the people you’re with in order to learn to your greatest capacity.”
By Chad Skiles '12