Arts & Entertainment

Maria Carrillo artist of the month: Spencer Hayes

Artist of the month Spencer Hayes on Carrillo campus (Photo: Georgia Laganiere, The Puma Prensa)

by Georgia Laganiere, staff writer

While only having a few short months to practice, the cast of Romeo and Juliet put on an amazing production despite the hurdles of the pandemic. A stand-out character was unsurprisingly Juliet, one of two title characters. Spencer Hayes, the Maria Carrillo junior who played Juliet, is an incredibly gifted actor. Between Legally Blonde, presenting at the Lenaea Theater Festival and now Romeo and Juliet, there is no stopping him. 

Q: What drew you to theatre?

A: In elementary school I used to go to see shows with my grandma every year at the Santa Rosa Junior College. At the time I was in band, but something about it was fulfilling. So the summer before middle school, I tried an acting class and even though I cried the entire morning before my first performance, I was hooked on the people, the trust, the unity and the depth that acting brings. So I signed up for the drama program at Rincon Valley Middle School and I’ve been acting ever since. 

Q: What was the first show you were in and what did you play? What was it like?

A: Well my first show was as a soldier in Seussical, the musical at RVMS. I was in seventh grade with a huge ensemble where we twirled wooden rifles to a military song. It wasn’t a big part, but it was a lot of fun and it was a good learning experience. It gave me a lot of the important skills needed for being part of a production. 

Q: How did you keep a connection to theatre during the pandemic? And what was the experience like transitioning from online theatre to in-person theatre again?

A: One of the only things that made me smile during quarantine was watching my classmates present scenes and monologues in drama class. When every day was filled with distressed teachers and silent classmates, it made me so happy to see people have passion for this art and show their peers their talent. Though we weren’t able to produce any shows, we had online showcases and I participated in the annual Lenaea Theatre Festival online. It was beyond terrifying to present, but our school worked hard and we won more awards than ever and I couldn’t be more proud of us. As nice as these experiences were, nothing compares to in person theatre. I finally got to work on scenes with other actors for the first time in so long, and I got to be a part of a wonderful production again, and these things are so valuable to me. Quarantine really taught me to appreciate each opportunity that comes my way, and I’m going to continue to do my best to contribute to each production in any way that I can.

Q: What is your favorite role and why?

A: Oh god, definitely Juliet. Even though my past roles have a very special place in my heart, Juliet was the first three-dimensional, human character I’ve ever had the responsibility to play.  I really felt like I was connecting with someone real. There is something special about playing a part as timeless as Romeo and Juliet with all of your friends. I feel so honored and so connected to the human experience to have told this story with a cast of talented people. Some people I’ve been working with since middle school and some new friends too, it’s been wonderful. I’m never going to forget it. 

Q: How do you deal with being cast as a traditionally feminine role, Juliet, while identifying as male?

A: It’s interesting, but I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. It was hard at first, and it’s not going to be easy for everyone, but once I was able to create a healthy separation between Juliet and me, it became much more comfortable. The relationship between an actor and their character is just that, a relationship. Allowing Juliet to live through me for a brief period of my life does not make me any less of a man. If anything, it’s shown me that men and women really aren’t as different as we like to think they are. I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.

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