Senior actor reflects on Temple Theaters, commencement and life after Temple
by Logan Beck
Senior theater major in the acting and musical theater concentrations Mary Guarnieri recently took her final bow with Temple Theaters as Athena in The Odyssey.
In May, she’ll grace a different stage as a different role, the Theater Film and Media Arts Commencement Speaker.
Guarnieri entered the theater world the summer after her 8th grade year, after auditioning for her first musical and subsequently receiving the leading role.
“I was late into the [theater] game, I started in high school because up until then I was a ballerina my whole life, and essentially one day I decided I wanted to be an actor, because ballet was very limiting, and I was very ‘out there,’” Guarnieri said.
She continued performing theater all throughout high school, deciding during those years that it had become her passion. When it came time to apply to schools, she determined Temple would become her home.
“When I was auditioning for a lot of different musical theater programs, a lot of the schools were very intense and you were just a number and a body,” Guarnieri said. “When I came to audition for Temple it was very grounded and about you as a person and you as an artist, not just about you as a product.”
At Temple, Guarnieri has participated in many mainstage shows, various student films, and is a member of Temple’s Alpha Psi Omega, a National Honorary Theater Fraternity.
A few of Guarnieri’s roles at Temple include Laurie in Oklahoma!, Maggie Anderson in Brigadoon, Erma in Anything Goes, and a cast member in Odd Girl Out. Additionally, Guarnieri has danced in The Boys from Syracuse, and two Temple operas, Hansel und Gretel and The Merry Widow. Her most recent role was Athena in The Odyssey.
Aside from the actual performance aspect of the theater experience, Guarnieri appreciates the “family dynamic” that tends to be developed when working on productions.
"Working in a collaborative art form, you get to become close with a lot of different people with a lot of different backgrounds in the arts,” Guarnieri said.
Throughout her experience in The Odyssey, Guarnieri and her castmates created that exact bond.
“That experience [The Odyssey], we built it as an ensemble, there was no tension, everyone’s voice was heard, everyone came together and made something bigger than ourselves,” Guarnieri said.
Currently, Guarnieri is part of the Acting V class, a capstone class specifically for the acting concentration. As part of the course, students assemble a variety of songs, monologues and other pieces to perform in a showcase in New York in front of casting directors, agents and alumni.
Guarnieri and her classmates are still working on piecing together the showcase, ensuring that each of the eleven students are given a proper chance to shine.
“It’s been a huge commitment,” Guarnieri said.
With graduation right around the corner, Guarnieri applied to be the commencement speaker to serve as a “bookend” to her time at Temple.
“When I first came to Temple I was a completely different person,” Guarnieri said. “You kind of grow and change throughout your college career. It’s kind of like leaving and closing this chapter in my life.”
To write her speech, Guarnieri gained inspiration from the phases of the moon, and is working that metaphor into her speech.
“We’re all the same age, I’m not any wiser than anyone else in any way,” Guarnieri said. “I was just kind of like, I’m gonna share what I feel about what I’ve learned in these last four years of college. If that resonates with anybody, that’s kind of cool.”