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We are excited to feature Chris Pagonis in the Student Spotlight! Chris joined ArtStream in 2018. At 29, he is an Inclusive Theatre Company actor and enjoys classes and Super Social Saturdays.

We chatted with him to learn more about his experience at ArtStream and why he loves theatre.

AS: How did you get started at ArtStream?

Chris: My mom! She signed me up without even telling me! She signed me up unannounced! That is what she actually did! She literally signed me up without me knowing right away! At first, I was like, “Am I really going to enjoy this?”

That’s how I got into ArtStream. The first class I went to was Super Social Saturday. I tried it and I really liked it!

I saw my friend Langston there. I met other people. Then I decided to go back because I wanted to be with all my friends.

AS: What activities do you like to do at ArtStream?

Chris: I like all the classes that I am doing, like Scriptwriting, like Creating Your Own Character. I’m really looking forward to starting my audition for the Inclusive Theatre Company at ArtStream. I already know what I am going to do … comedy!

AS: How do you create your character for the Inclusive Theatre Company shows?

Chris: Last year, I wanted to change it up and be evil with my character. The ArtStream show before that one, I think the director picked my name for me. This year I picked my own name, Barry Voldemort the Evil Wizard!

AS: Do you have a favorite role from all the shows you’ve done?

Chris: I liked all my roles that I had. They were very different. I remember the movie theatre part in That’s Show Biz. I had to change my reaction. I gave them a nice smile. I had to be horrified instead.

AS: What do you like best about acting with ArtStream?

Chris: Getting our scripts, looking forward to what we are going to talk about when it comes to our show. Like, what kind of topics we are going to come up with for the next show. We make a big list and then we have to narrow it down. Because in our first show, we were supposed to do a magic/grocery store/ice cream thing, but guess what happened? Instead of the magic part, the directors cut that out. I noticed that and I’m like, “Why?” They cut that out, I don’t know why they did that. Then this year we did A Tempest Tale and that had a lot of magic.

AS: Do you get nervous on stage?

Chris: I don’t get nervous on stage. Not at all. I was a little nervous in the beginning. I didn’t know what to expect. Now I’m completely fine. With the volunteer peer mentors helping me, knowing where to stand and who I’m going to be with in each scene, that helped me get over being nervous.

AS: What would you tell someone who isn’t sure if they will like ArtStream?

Chris: Try it, see if you really like it! If you really like it, I would say, “Keep going.”

At ArtStream you are going to have so much fun, you are going to meet a lot of people. The ArtStream directors can help you out with your lines and what you want to come up with for your character that you pick. It is a team.

AS: What have you learned at ArtStream?

Chris: I’ve learned a lot, like standing upstage, where to stand for each scene … and you have to memorize all your lines. For me, that was kind of a little harder. Sometimes the volunteer peer mentors will help you out with that. I practiced with my friends.

AS: What is it like to be doing ArtStream from home?

Chris: You have to do classes on Zoom. You have to talk with friends through different web accounts. It’s really frustrating.

It’s funny how, before COVID hit, it was funny how me and my friends Langston and Caroline, we were always the first three to be at the rehearsal room – before everyone else! Because I don’t want to be late at all! Me and Langston would meet up at my apartment and then we would go there together.

Since COVID hit and my work put me on administrative leave, I’ve been over here at my parents’ house. I’ll be here until I can go back to my apartment. I miss being able to get up in the morning and go to work every day. That’s really what I miss! I miss being at work. I work at a supply store at the National Institutes of Health. I work on the register and make deliveries in the building and in buildings close by. We have to unpack materials that we get from our warehouse. We have to make barcodes to put on each item. We have to do a lot of work. I’m going to have to wait and see what’s going to happen at work.

AS: Have you made new friends at ArtStream?

Chris: I have been meeting a lot of new friends at ArtStream! My new friends make me feel happy. We used to go to the movies, go to Dave and Busters, go to the Caps games. Now I have to wait until this pandemic is over with.

AS: What are some of your favorite parts about ArtStream?

Chris: Meeting new friends. Seeing what we come up with for our shows.

I remember our first show, Shops and Robbers – that was a great one. My shoes that I had they almost ripped because me and Langston had to do a lot of running around behind the flats and stuff (sets and backdrops). I was like, “Oh please, do not fall apart on me.” I had to keep acting, but I kept looking down and worrying about my shoes!

AS: What does ArtStream mean to you?

Chris: ArtStream is so much fun! You get to meet a whole lot of new people and you get to do a lot of acting onstage or on Zoom.

AS: Thank you for answering all these questions. Is there anything you would like to ask us?

Chris: If I had a CD of the ArtStream songs they played at the ArtStream Gala and Dance Party, I would really like that. I would listen all the time.