Liv Story of Cortez, now a junior at Oklahoma City University, recently starred in her first collegiate lead role, as Agnes Eggling in “A Bright Room Called Day.”
The play, written by Tony Kushner, presents a discussion on the role of art in social and political spheres through the eyes of the main character, Agnes Eggling, as she and several friends are embroiled in the events of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1932.
The role required a fast-paced rehearsal schedule, professional-level work ethic, working within union rules and always being ready to give her best effort. Story said the role and the process challenged her to grow in her skill and talent on an individual level, which was a different experience from working with fellow students in productions at Montezuma-Cortez High School.
Growing up in Cortez, Story often found encouragement and support for her theatrical talents from family, friends and the community. That sort of external validation fed her desire to improve and learn. The small group of theater enthusiasts she often worked with in high school grew together through class instruction and rehearsals. After leaving for college, Story said, she recognized she had been something of a “big fish in a small pond.”
Making the adjustment to life as a college theater major was more challenging than she expected.
Surrounded by students with more experience and training, many of whom attended performing arts high schools, Story felt some discouragement at not getting choice roles early on. Despite feeling as though she missed out on opportunities, Story said she “realized that was a healthy part of the process of growth and development for an actor” and that it made her appreciate her small-town background and the support she received in middle school and high school even more.
When speaking of growing up in Cortez, Story said the small-town environment taught her how to communicate with a variety of people and to respect others regardless of where they stood in the community. She saw her role as a performer as creating art for members of the community.
While Story still sees herself as a creator of art for others, her years at OCU have taught her to focus on internal validation as well.
Playing the role of Agnes Eggling pushed Story to explore why she was pursuing acting and whether she was working so hard only for others or for herself as well. It “rewired her thinking on what it means to be an artist” and encouraged her to explore more types of acting and open herself up to new options and career paths within the world of entertainment.
Working with professional directors also spawned an interest in directing for her. She said she enjoys the process and has added directing as a degree minor. She also has sharpened her writing skills. Story plans to pursue publishing her poetry and working on writing plays and small group projects this summer. She still hopes to study abroad, despite travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. If she remains in Oklahoma City for the summer, she plans to explore summer theater productions and start networking in the city’s rich theater community.
With graduation on the horizon for next year, Story said she’s considering testing her talents in New York City or Chicago, both of which have thriving experimental art scenes.