Last Call: Brian Cross

As the semester progresses at the speed of light, the senior class is beginning to make peace with that fateful day in May: Commencement. Until the class of 2012 up and leaves us, BlogDH wants to highlight all the interesting things the class has been up to. To this end, we are (re)starting a series, Last Call, featuring seniors reflecting on their experiences at Brown. Each featured senior will tag another senior for the next installment. Find this year’s other “Last Call” chain here.

Then + Now

People might know me as…a Jabberwock? Maybe an actor in some productions on campus?  But that might just be how I’m known to people that know me…

Bridget’s question: What are you most passionate about? Teaching and acting.

What plays have you been in? I did a play called “Gross Indecency” that was on the main stage last semester, and I did a piece called “Standing On Ceremony,” which is a series of readings about gay marriage. That was done in conjunction with Trinity Rep.

BDH: So are you majoring in theater, then?
BC: No, I’m majoring in Economics.

On a Friday night you might find yourself…Now, probably the GCB. Back before I was 21… I don’t know. It depends on how busy I was. My friends and I were part of the Wayland crew — we all lived in Wayland and stuck together. Maybe play some drinking games… I’m not sure what you’re allowed to publish? [Edit: “Basically anything.”] Me and my group of friends, [we] play a lot of word games and board games…We started with Apples to Apples, but we outgrew that pretty fast. We play games but then try to improve them — like we invented our own version of Apples to Apples.

The best class/professor at Brown is…Kym Moore in the theater department. [She teaches] TA23, Intro to Acting. She’s great. All of the professors I’ve had in the theater department have been great, but her class was the first class that I took at Brown and she’s a fantastic teacher. I’ve done a couple of plays that she’s directed. She’s just really helpful.

Three things you wished you knew freshman year? I’ve thought about this before. If I could talk to freshman year Brian and give him a little bit of a heads up, I’d point to certain classes that I definitely should have taken, certain classes that I should have taken pass/fail, and classes that I should not have taken. Brown is awesome in that you can form your own curriculum, but I think in order to take advantage of it, you have to have a pretty good sense of what you want to do so you can take classes that you think are really helpful to you or help you branch out and change what you think about things. Like I probably should have taken Mande. I took Chinese for two years; I should have stuck with it. I should have taken more Latin. This is just for me specifically.

I probably would have joined an improv group. Like Starla and Sons. They seem like so much fun. And it’d just be a really helpful tool because I want to act eventually.

Third thing — maybe just chill out? I feel like I was way more wired, nervous and stressed when I was a freshman, and now I think I’ve chilled out a little more.

Ratty vs. V-Dub? After this interview I’m going to the V-Dub. On Fridays, V-Dub. I would say I spend the majority of my time in the Ratty, though. [Pause] V-Dub. I’m going to say V-Dub.

What is one thing you wish you had done in your time here? I probably would have auditioned for main stage productions earlier. I’ve done two and they were both this year; I’d never auditioned for them before.

I have a lot of friends who are just really smart. I mean all of my friends are really smart — a bunch of my friends are working at Google next year, my friend Tom discovered water on the moon, my friend Natan just published a book. They’re all really talented, and I’ve realized that the best resources I have at Brown are my peers. It’s very important to be around people who are smarter than you in certain ways, so that there’s this feedback loop of improving upon your own intellect and your own capabilities. I think I would have taken advantage of that sooner. I would have spent more time with my friends, been more inquisitive from the beginning.

What do you plan to do after graduation? I’m going to go to Europe for a little while and do some WWOOFing. [Digression as the interviewer talks about his WWOOFing experience]. I’m going to Ireland, trying to get in touch with my roots.

Editorial note: “WWOOF” is an acronym for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.” It is an organization that links up farmers with travelers who want to work on organic farms in exchange for free room and board. “WWOOFing” is simply the gerund form of the verb “to WWOOF” — to go on a farming adventure through WWOOF. See: “You’ve never been WWOOFing?”

BDH: Are you planning on going with anyone else?
BC: Well, so I’m flying with my a capella group to Europe. We do it every other year. It’s the only free trip to Europe I’m going to get for the rest of my life. I’m just going to stay for a while longer, like an extra six weeks, in Ireland. After that, I’m hoping to end up in New York. I’m not really sure yet, though. I’m trying to take it day by day.
BDH: Do you know what sort of farming you want to do while WWOOFing?
BC: I don’t really care. I kind of care more about where I am. I’m looking at profiles, and there are literally castles that I can stay in. People are like, “yeah, so we need someone to come take care of our castle.” So I think I’d care more about that. But it’d be cool to learn the basics of a specific type of trade. Like, there are cheese makers in Ireland and soap makers. I think I’m realizing more and more that, being at Brown, I’m very heady, so part of the reason I want to WWOOF is that I want to work with my hands and my body again. There’s a TED talk where someone refers to college professors as people that sort of consider their bodies as means of transportation for their heads, but, really, they should be a lot more than that.

Who are you tagging next? Chantel Whittle. I tagged Chantel because she’s kind of a whole mess of talents.  She’s been “famous” on campus since maybe the second month of freshmen year for her voice and on stage personality. But then you get to know her one on one and she’s shy and modest and all that jazz. I think she also nicely embodies the spirit of collaborative work. She directed a production I was in (RENT), and, for such a big undertaking, she did a nice job in toeing the line of when to maintain her directorial voice of authority and when and how to ask for help when she needed it.

In essence, I think almost every senior has known her or known of her since freshman year, so I thought people might be interested to hear, in her own words, who she really is and where she’s going next.

Next up: Chantel Whittle
Brian’s Question: After you graduate, what are your back-up plans?

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