Ashlyn Rising is a ninth-grade student at Westover Christian Academy. Her favorite subjects include English, history, and most importantly, drama. Rising has been acting for over five years now. She got her start in the fourth grade, creating skits to perform for her teachers. Rising shared that she “loved the feeling of an entertained audience, no matter how small the audience was, so I made a new skit every day. I think they thought I was a really weird kid, but I didn’t care. I loved being the skit girl!”
Rising has combined all three of her favorite subjects by performing in Smokestack Theatre Company’s annual historical ghost tour, Ghosts & Gravestones. She has been a part of this production four times now. But Rising’s favorite was her first year in 2020, playing Flora Lapham. She said, “That show was so special to me because it made me realize I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.” Readers might remember seeing her in this role on the cover of the October 2020 Evince. Rising has grown up with the show, having since played the gHostess, Elizabeth Royall, and was recently promoted to a guide in the 2023 production.
Having become an avid play reader over the past few years, Rising finds it challenging to pick just one show as the favorite. If she must pick one, it would be Shrek the Musical. Yes, the beloved animated film has been made into a stage play, and it takes a lot of confidence for those actors to get on stage as green ogres! Rising believes confidence is key when it comes to acting. She claimed, “If you aren’t positive in your own actions, the audience won’t understand your character. What you say is worth every single person in the room listening to.”
Preparing for a role is no easy task. Rising finds the most beneficial way for her to prepare is to read the script over and over, paying attention to all the character’s word choices and stage directions the playwright has written. She said the more she reads the script, the better she can understand her character and put herself in their shoes, ultimately becoming the character. While Rising is not prone to stage fright, she falls victim from time to time. In that moment, her technique is to visualize the script in her brain to help jog her memory.
Rising attributed a portion of her acting success to her role model, a local Averett student majoring in theatre, Kylie Morton. “I have always watched her amazing work ethic and obvious talent. One day, that woman is going to be a role model for so many others as well. Not only that, but she is an extraordinary friend to have in every situation. She’s generous, a great leader, hilarious, and she’d drop everything to help me if I needed it because that’s just the kind of person she is. I couldn’t ask for a better role model.”
For those who may be hesitant about putting themselves out there on stage, Rising quoted none other than Shrek the Musical. “‘Let your freak flag fly.’ Never for one second change who you are because someone told you they didn’t like it. What’s so bad about being a little different, a little strange? Nothing. Know who you are. Remind the world you’re not afraid of their judgment.”