Interview conducted by Kadie Sue Martin in the The Crossings’ series on creativity and diversity within Bethel University’s student body. The heart behind this series is to explore creativity in a broader sense and to be encouraged and inspired by the creatives on our campus and the things that they are doing.
Timothy Miller is a Sophomore English Education Major at Bethel University. He loves hanging out with his friends on campus and watching movies. This year Tim plans on exploring his extroverted side as well as re-introducing himself to the world of theatre by performing in Bethel’s own fall production of Alice in Wonderland.
How would you define creativity? Creativity is anything that you have a passion for and anything you want to design or create. It’s how you go about making that. Things that you’re passionate about—music, drawing, or story-telling—and taking your beliefs and how you view the world and making that into something of your own and presenting that to other people in a way that’s entertaining and fascinating.
How do you specifically express your creativity? Well, I did a lot of theatre in high school, and then I started doing theatre here at Bethel this year. That’s a big way for me to let out my creativity because it’s taking stuff that I have to learn and making it my own, like my own character in my unique presentation to others. There’s a lot of creativity that goes into that. I feel like a lot of my school work I am able to make the way I want. Meaning, in terms of essays, I get to choose topics I’m interested in so I can take those and present them to my professors in a way that I enjoy.
Do you feel like you have a good balance between homework and your creativity?
A majority of my homework is reading since I’m an English Ed, but once I get done with that I enjoy writing essays about the books I’ve read. I find that interesting. I have plenty of time after schoolwork and whatnot to express creativity in the ways that I want, especially Tuesdays and Thursdays when I only have one class. I get most of my homework done before my class at 2:00, and then I finish what I have left afterwards. Then I have the whole rest of the day to (a) study for other stuff, but (b) do things that I enjoy.
Is there a specific genre you gravitate towards in either your acting or writing?
I don’t know. I shine, acting-wise, in comedic roles so a lot of my interests lie in comedy. That’s tough, though. I obviously love the “nerdy” things such as action and stuff like that. Anyway that I can incorporate action and humor into my writing I will because that’s fun.
Congratulations on your role in the upcoming play. Did you audition with a specific part in mind since you’re more drawn to comedic roles, even though Alice in Wonderland is pretty humorous all around? So I got three parts. Each character is only in a few scenes. I’m the Cheshire Cat, White Knight, and the Gryphon. Yes, the whole show is very comedic. When we were doing our run-through, we were just laughing at how absurd the script can be. But when I did my audition, I auditioned because I wanted to get back into theatre, not because I knew the show or wanted a specific part. I kind of went in with an open mind, and then they gave me those three parts. The thing about those three characters is that they’re all very, like, different. The Cat is very quiet, sly, and funny, and then the Gryphon’s very fat and lazy.
He doesn’t want to do anything. The White Knight is all about “oh, I’m the best. I’m better than you because I’m a knight.” So I get to work with those three characters, and change my acting abilities among them, which is really fun.
You mentioned before that you were getting back into theatre. Is there a reason you took a hiatus? Freshman year I came in after doing three years of theatre in high school and was like, “you know what, it’s new—college is new—and I don’t know how it works yet.” I didn’t want to just jump straight into theatre and then be super stressed. Last year, there were times when I was stressed, but this year I thought I could build time in for that. I did, and I enjoy it.
Is there a process you go through when you’re memorizing lines? For me, when I’m memorizing lines, I just grind through it. Like I just keep reading through it over and over again. The thing with acting is that the first part of training for the show is you get everything in your mind. Then, once you’re free of the script—it’s just common knowledge, like the back of your hand—then you’re able to play with your lines and character. You see it one way, but then the director’s like, “no, don’t do that.” So then you have to be like, “okay, I’ll do it this way.” Then she’ll be like, “that’s better.” That’s where the real fun is.
How about your process for writing? For writing wise, I’ll write out whole first paragraphs and think “that’s really good.” Then I’ll write more and be like “oh gosh, I don’t know if I like that.” Go back, change it. So that process of creating the paper—I don’t know —it sounds really weird and, like, nerdy.
Is there anything you draw inspiration from or anywhere you go to find inspiration?
Oh, man. . . Acting wise, my older brother Shane was at Bethel, and he got a
degree in theatre. So a lot of acting prowess wise, I kind of remember how he
presented himself on stage and try to do that because he was really good since
he majored in it. I draw a lot of inspiration from him, and then my friends,
too. We all have, like, very different interests - it’s weird. A lot of my friend
group is interested in different areas. He likes this while I like that, and
somehow we’re all friends. So, with them, it’s fun to see where there interests
lie versus where my interests lie and how we interact around that. I’m
probably not saying this right, but they’re another great source because, you
know, we’re all different and have our own interests. So I can try to share my
interests with them so they understand why I like what I do.
Was there a certain age that you decided that you wanted to pursue English, either on paper or the stage? I remember in elementary school we did, like, theI don’t remember what it was called—it was like some writer’s conference. And so, my mom would buy me like those little white books that are just those plain, white books with plain white pages. I would just write stupid stories. I remember I wrote about a hamburger saving the world, or something like that. Then I would take it to the book fair and be like, “guys, I wrote this. This is so cool.” So, a lot of like the writing and English was elementary school, and then high school, during my senior year, I had a teacher who really pushed literature onto me. You know, there’s, like, the whole thing where teachers give you the books, and you read, like, the first chapter. Then you’re like, “I don’t want to read this,” so you Sparknotes the rest of it. It happens—everybody does it. But that year, he really pushed for us to read the books, and I read all those books and enjoyed all of them. So, a lot of my reading and want to read literature novels came from that. I didn’t want to do anything theatre until high school, and I really only did it because I saw some of my friends doing it. I was like, “that might be fun” so I did it, and then I really enjoyed it so I kept doing that.
How do you think you’ve grown as a write and actor? Different teachers have different ways of wanting you to write so I’ve had to change my writing throughout the teachers I’ve had. Like in high school, I had teachers that were super chill and just wanted us to write whatever we wanted. Then there were intense teachers so you had to make your essays more sound. A lot of my ability to write came from adapting how I wrote based on the teachers I had, and now that I’m at Bethel it’s kind of like that. It’s not nearly as weird as it was in high school. A lot of the writing is specific.
Looking forward, what are some creative goals you have set for yourself? I definitely want to keep doing theatre. I want to keep auditioning for stuff and get into that. Writing wise, I know I have to take a Creative Writing class sometime in the coming years, and I’m super excited for that. There’s also another class—I have to take Shakespeare in Literature, which is reading the plays. I remember reading Shakespeare in high school, and I started to get it but didn’t really get it. I want to be able to read into it. Obviously, if I’m English Ed Major I need to be able to teach Shakespeare so I’m super excited for those weird, obscure classes that I have to take. I think those are what are going to help me the best because that’s what I’m most interested in. That partnership between in being interested and growing is great.
Any final words for me or the Crossing’s literary audience? Do what you love.