Bess Ten Eyck
The Department of Theatre and Dance is going to miss every single one of its graduates this year, especially the ever-present Bess Ten Eyck ’13. Well-known around the Department for her bright smile and the
colorful ribbons she loves to wear in her hair (she literally owns over a hundred), she has also worked
for three years as our Recruitment Assistant, bringing in new students to our theatre program!
But her most visible contribution to the Department have been on stage, acting in countless productions,
playing roles from Olive Ostrovsky in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
to Miranda in this Spring’s The Tempest!
The Department of Theatre and Dance brought Bess in for an interview about her experience here.
T&D:What is your major?
Bess: Theatre, and I am also an Elementary Education Master’s student.
T&D: What’s your main focus in theatre?
Bess: Acting and musical theatre.
T&D: How did you first get involved with theatre?
Bess: When I was little, I tried to do a variety of things, including ballet and gymnastics, and my parents realized that wasn’t really my calling, given that I am horribly uncoordinated, so they signed me up for acting classes at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, and that’s when I realized that theatre was a passion of mine. My first role was a cow in a church play when I was four.
T&D: What is your favorite show you’ve worked on at UMW?
Bess: That’s a difficult question, but I’d have to say that my favorite show was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, because of the cast and the atmosphere of that show. I think it was the first show in which I discovered a real sense of characterization, but Romeo & Juliet always holds a special place in my heart, because it was my first major role and my first mainstage show here. It was the show that made me want to be a theatre major.
T&D: What are your plans after graduation?
Bess: Well next year I’m getting my master’s in Elementary Education with a focus on Arts Integration. After that, I’m not sure yet, I might want to pursue acting somewhere, but I am also very interested in educational programming through non-profit theatres and teaching artistry.
T&D: What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?
T&D: What is your favorite kind of candy?
Bess: My new favorite kind of candy is chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds. I have a huge sweet tooth, and I like lots of candies, but I really enjoy Swedish Fish and Hershey’s Cookies & Cream.
T&D: If you could work on any play or musical, which one would it be?
Bess: Tough question. I’ve always wanted to play Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, but I mean the top role on my list is of course Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
T&D:Do you have any interests outside of theatre?
Bess: I love to bake; I also love to crochet and knit. I ride horses, I’ve always ridden and I’m a riding counselor over the summer at an all girls’ camp. I also love hiking and traveling. I’ve sung for BellA’capella [UMW’s all-female acapella group] since my sophomore year.
T&D: How do you feel you’ve grown as an actor from your first college show to your last?
Bess: That’s a hard question too. I think I’ve learned a lot from then to now about creating a rich, vivid, true-to-life character that audiences can relate with. I think I have learned the most from my experiences in shows; more than I could have ever learned through studying acting on an academic level, so I really value my experiences on Klein Stage more than any other part of my education at UMW, because it has been the most valuable experiential learning I could have ever imagined.