By Stephanie Schell/Who’s That? editor
The stage was propped with only a piano and a heavy curtain. The lighting was dim. Gifford Theater was empty. But, according to Heather Adkins, she practically lives here.
Adkins, a theater major from Pike County, has spent a lot of her college career inside the walls of the Campbell Building.
According to Adkins, acting may be the only reason she has a college career.
“It took a long time to decide,” Adkins said about her major choice. “It was either quit or stay and build a rsum.”
Adkins wasn’t a stranger to the stage as a freshman at Eastern.
By the time she made it to college, Adkins had experience from church and middle school productions.
She had also gone to state and national levels as a competitor by the time she was 13 years old.
“I was so backwards and shy,” Adkins said of her early acting years. “I kept to myself.”
How can a “backwards and shy” girl from Pike County be cast for so many roles in Eastern productions and still remain confident in front of a crowd?
“(In acting), you can be who you want. I latched on to that,” Adkins said.
This little secret may be why she is one of few Eastern theater students cast in 13 or more productions. It may not be the most productions of one student at Eastern, but it is close.
“We don’t keep count,” said Jim Moreton, head of theater. “But it’s up there.”
While Adkins’ ninth semester is upon her, she is looking forward to her 13th and possibly her last production at Eastern – not to mention graduation in December.
She said she feels she has done her part at Eastern. She has contributed to many productions at the college level and is ready to “branch out.”
Adkins said she wants to work in Kentucky but is willing to go out of state for acting. She has already made a mark out of Gifford Theater by being recommended for a fund-raising project called Act Out.
Adkins was recommended by a member of Eastern’s theater faculty for the play “Sorted Lives” that took place in Lexington.
The play’s plot and fund-raiser was focused around gay rights.
“I felt good about it,” Adkins said of the Act Out project. “I have friends who could relate to the characters.” Looking back nine semesters ago, Adkins remembers her first production as a college freshman, “My Son is Crazy But Promising.”
Adkins had invited her mom, speech team from high school and her speech team coach to her first production.
The role she performed for the play required her to drop her dress and be exposed in skimpy undergarments.
She recalls hearing her speech coach gasping in the audience. Her mom congratulated her on the part.
“I don’t show my body ever,” Adkins said of her modesty. “Audience response is good.”
Comparing her high school drama experience to college drama was easy for Adkins.
“In high school, I was doing it for myself, by myself,” Adkins said. “There was really no one there for support.”
In college, Adkins said the support is great. She commended the professionalism of the productions at Eastern.
The way everything falls together in the end is rewarding for her.
Adkins admits she really enjoys playing supporting roles. She says they are more “out there” than other roles.
Her favorite role was Catherine from the play “Proof.” It was her first deep role and she described it as a “wonderful show.”
She slipped into the role of Catherine with the help of Moreton.
“(Moreton) taught me to know that a character is there for a reason. They aren’t on stage for nothing,” Adkins said of her challenging role. “His opinions really mean a lot to me.”
Adkins has a production coming up at the end of the month.
“Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen is a drama/comedy that will push Adkins’ comfort zone.
“It will be the hardest of all,” Adkins said of her upcoming role as Hedda Gabler. “There are underlying feelings and hidden meanings.”
“Hedda Gabler” may be Adkins’ last production as an Eastern student.
There is another comedy that she may audition for, but she is not sure yet.
“More experience the better,” Adkins said.
“Hedda Gabler” will begin Sept. 29 and show through Oct. 2 at Gifford Theater in the Campbell Building.
Adkins explained how the love for what she does is the only reason she does it. She said the only reason she is successful is because she loves theater.
“Regardless of money, do what you love,” Adkins suggested to students of all majors.
Reach Stephanie at
“I’ve grown a lot. I’ve come a lot farther than I ever thought.”
*Adkins still gets nervous before performances.
*Adkins and crew teamed up with womens studies for the sold out, student produced play “The Vagina Monologues.”