Twin Set with Alexis Gilkes ’18 and Caroline Fossum ‘20
By Madison Kobe ‘18
You know you are in the right field of study when you are passionate about your work and can’t seem to pull yourself away. This is exactly how Alexis Gilkes ’18 and Caroline Fossum ’20 feel when it comes to the Fine Arts, so it’s no surprise that their first project for this year is staring in a three person show. Alexis and Caroline told me a little about what it is like to star in a three person show.
How are you involved in the production of Twin Set?
Alexis: I am one of three actors in the production, and I am portraying the role of Betty.
Caroline: I play the role of “Marnie” in Twin Set. Marnie is the feisty, spunky friend that the sisters went to high school with. They haven’t seen her since high school ended until she shows up to get an annulment from her marriage and chaos ensues!
How will this project be different from projects you have worked on in the past?
Alexis: Twin Set is a much smaller family than I am used to working with. As a Music Theatre major, much of my experience is with large ensemble shows such as Urinetown or Young Frankenstein. Our team is so tight knit, and we have learned so much from working with each other. I always love stepping outside of a musical and into a straight play to gain fresh insights and new experiences. In Twin Set, we don’t necessarily have at our disposal the ability to break into song or dance in a highly emotional situation. For most people, that’s not abnormal, but coming from a music and movement background, it can be a bit of an obstacle for me. It’s always exciting to explore new techniques and tactics to overcome those challenges, because I learn so much about myself as an artist.
Caroline: Twin Set is only a three person cast which is the smallest cast I have ever worked with so that is definitely something new but it has been so nice! We have been able to spend more time focusing on smaller things that we wouldn’t be able to take time with if we had a big cast.
What are you most excited for in regards to Twin Set?
Alexis: This show is so much fun, and shows that are fun just cry out for an audience. It will be so exciting to get this work out in front of the public. Twin Set is an exhilarating ride that I think many will be glad to have partaken in.
Caroline: The thing I’m most excited about for Twin Set is being able to share it with the Carthage community! We’ve been rehearsing for over a month now and we are getting so antsy for an audience! I also think this show, although it is set in the 70’s, has some themes and topics that are extremely relevant to things happening in the world today so I can’t wait to hear peoples’ feedback about that.
What challenge(s) have you faced with this production, if any?
Alexis: Every production has its challenges. If it didn’t we’d all have Tony Awards, and no one would need to study. For me, this is the first time I’ve played a character whose opinion I disagree with so much. While Betty and I have plenty of similarities, our minds just don’t work the same. She is the character who I have had to build the most for so far in my career. There are pieces of myself that I can bring to her, but so much of her is incredibly unique.
Caroline: It has definitely been difficult to break out of my comfort zone in this show and be comfortable with a lot of the choices my character makes! Marnie is a lot more eccentric and out there than I am so that took some adjusting!
How do you feel you have grown since starting your college career at Carthage?
Alexis: My time at Carthage has been three crazy years. I came in ready to sing and dance my way on down to Chicago and then over to the Big Apple. Since starting my journey here, I have found a passion for straight plays, direction, and even playwriting. If you had told me at the beginning of my freshmen year that I would eventually write a play and travel with it to Italy to be workshopped I would have told you, you were crazy, but that was my summer!
Caroline: I think this character has really helped me to grow as an actor and I think going from being a small part in “Stage Kiss” my freshman year and making my way to this show and Marnie is definitely a big step for me and I have learned a lot about myself as an actor through this show.
What are your current plans for after Carthage?
Alexis: Through working with the Music Theatre Department and their partnerships with several conservatories and academies for youth in China, I have found a real passion in theatre for young audiences. I’m thinking that’s the route I want to go. That may lead me to acting, directing, writing or even designing. I’m not sure yet. All I know is that there’s something really special about the magic a child can find in the theatre, and I want to be a part of it.
Caroline: My current plans, and yes they change almost weekly, are to move to Milwaukee or Chicago and begin to establish myself as an actor in the professional world!
What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in theatre?
Alexis: Don’t hesitate, and try it all. If you thought you had an interest in sports, would you stop after only shooting a few baskets? Of course not! You might try baseball, soccer, bowling, hockey, anything! It’s the same thing with the arts. Dive in! Take an acting class, see a show, and try your hand at designing. You never know where it could lead you until you try.
Caroline: DO IT!!! There are so many ways you can get involved, if you don’t want to be onstage! You can work costumes or lights or sound or be a stage manager and there are so many more! A lot of our theatre classes are also open to everyone so if you’re thinking about theatre, try one of those classes and see how you like it!