By Sarah Duis
Right now, 26-year-old theatre major Jeremy Weyer is traveling to Alabama for a job interview. Hundreds of interviews, actually. And they're taking place all at once.
Weyer will perform 90 seconds of acting and singing in front of an audience of hiring theatre companies at this year's Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in Mobile, Alabama.
"This is a real ticket to a job," he said.
Weyer will graduate this May, so employment in his field is at the front of his mind.
If you've been to a play at IU South Bend in the past half-decade, you've probably seen Weyer on stage. He's performed in all but three IU South Bend stage productions since 2009. For the plays he wasn't acting, he was managing and directing.
Like most college students, Weyer wants to put his major – and hands-on experience – to use after he gets his diploma.
But making a living as a paid actor is hard.
"Like, astronomically hard," Weyer said. "And part of the stress of the whole SETC experience is that it's literally right in front of me. It's the steak in front of the dog's nose and now the dog has to dance, and if I dance well enough, that's living the dream. That is exactly what I want to do."
It's a lot of pressure for a college senior, but Weyer has made the most of his time at IU South Bend. His performances range from King Charles in Pippin to Napolean in Animal Farm to Miss Wilson in SMASH.
His understanding of how to play a range of characters has improved since he first began acting, he said.
"You can walk in the door with the ability to play a woman as a man, or a big gruff guy, but actually becoming that character is where the difficulty lies," Weyer said. "To actually be that character and understand that you can do that, that's here you're gonna be successful. "
Weyer gives thanks to IU South Bend and its small class sizes for allowing him to pursue acting. He first attended Ball State to study acting, but found that the size and competition of the theatre group was "too big, too fast."
He left and worked for a couple of years. Then a friend convinced him ("through a lot of badgering") to try out for a play at IUSB called After Juliet. He wasn't enrolled at the time, but he made it.
"After I got cast in that play I saw how awesome the program was and got convinced to come to school again," Weyer said.
He said the real advantage of IU South Bend's theatre program boils down to quality training on an individual scale.
"It's kind of like a best kept secret, because you could go to a big theatre school and hope and pray and train all you want, but the hard fact of theatre is that your best teacher is experience," Weyer said.
He's competing for roles here, he added, but the competition pool is smaller.
"Even if I'm not gonna get a part that may be necessarily be amazing, I have a better chance of getting a part, period. And any experience is good experience, even if you are sailor #3 in HMS Pinafore. I was!"
At SETC, theatre companies are looking to place actors in internship, apprenticeship, and full-time positions.
With acting credits in 17 IU South Bend theatre productions, Weyer is ready for a larger stage.