Nicole Tetreault is a Theatre Major at Muhlenberg College. Her concentrations are in Acting and Design. She is currently involved in the Muhlenberg Circus Workshop as a clown as well as being heavily involved in the Muhlenberg Theatre Association as a performer, set builder, and playwright. Nicole’s other passions include improvisational and sketch comedy, music, and new learning opportunities.
My first week of college was filled with auditions, but the last and most important audition I attended was for the Muhlenberg Circus Workshop. I had been interested in circus arts in high school, which is part of the reason why I was so drawn to Muhlenberg College. When I walked into the audition room I only recognized one boy who was in my dance class, but aside from that I felt like I was flying solo and the warm up they led us through was on a level of intensity I had not experienced. It featured clap pushups and candle stick tuck jumps, so I was relieved when I went into the clowning portion of the audition. Walking out of there I knew that becoming a part of that group would change my life for the better and so far it has.
Being in the circus has challenged my ideas of what I am capable of. It was mandatory in my first semester for me to go to acrobatics rehearsals even though I was cast as a clown. I was excited because I love learning new skills, but I would also be nervous and could get very down on myself in the rehearsals. I went in unable to do a cartwheel, bridge, or handstand, but as rehearsals continued I found myself slowly improving. The wrestling room we practiced in was not an environment for putting people down due to their inability to do different tricks, but rather an environment that catered to people learning at their own pace. When I was behind the rest of the group, my directors or other members of my cast would continue to help me learn and encourage me to keep practicing. Those first semester acrobatics rehearsals showed me in my rawest state. I was sweaty, my hair was a mess, and I was flinging my body around trying to figure out all of these new skills. My cast mates saw me like that every week and they not only continued to talk to me, but they became some of my closest friends.
I did not anticipate becoming so close with such a large group of people. For the first few months of rehearsals I was actually extremely nervous because I did not know anyone well, but as time went on I began to form more and more friendships within the circus. I started to feel my heart fill with joy anytime I bumped into someone outside of rehearsal. When I was stressed out or needed advice I had people I could go to. Going from knowing no one on campus to having a large loving community of people who all want to see me succeed helped me immensely with my transition from high school to college. Coming back for my second semester after winter break I realized how many friendships I had actually made and could not wait to see everyone again. For me I was able to find this joy through the circus, for other friends I have they are able to make these tight bonds through their sports teams or sketch comedy groups. Whatever the group on campus winds up being for someone, the important thing is to just get involved in something he or she is passionate about and take the time to get to know the other people involved.