Creative Spotlight: Micah Spieldenner
Micah is a Biblical and Theological Studies student at the University of Northwestern St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. When he’s not studying ancient Greek, his eyes are on a script. Micah is committed to acting, starring in shows like Mary Poppins, Pippin, and The Addams Family. He also placed third in the category of Humorous Interpretation at the National Forensic League’s National Speech and Debate Tournament. Today, Micah is talking about his overlapping Creative endeavors and how faith can inspire internally and externally.
Micah, I’ve known you for a long time, and you were a pretty shy kid. What happened to get you from a shy boy to a man who is willing to sing and act in front of crowds?
It was kinda a fateful meeting with Hannah[my older sister], where she forced me to audition for speech my freshmen year of high school. I was terrified, and I never thought I would speak in front of people - that was never something I saw in my future. Hannah was really involved and she wanted me to do it too. In the audition, I made people laugh and seeing their response shifted something in me. I wanted to engage with people and get a reaction from them.
You decided to study Theology, but you pursue acting in your spare time. How do the two correlate? Does your acting affect your views on Theology or vice versa?
A lot of what I’ve learned at a Christian school; they have a unique way of approaching acting. Every story is impacted by faith, by God, He works through all situations. So even a play that has nothing to do with the religion of Christianity can bring out emotions in people that point them to God. It can inspire people to create for themselves and bring them to a place of happiness. Vice versa, it’s interesting; an actor’s mindset and theologian’s mindset are very different. I’ve noticed that being in the acting community kinda empowers me to pursue God more so that I’m being the body of Christ to people who are often antagonistic toward God. It’s inspired me to be grounded in my faith so that when I’m in non-Christian environments I don’t question what I believe.
What’s been most internally challenging aspect of acting since you started acting?
This past year I’ve been challenged to go into darker and deeply emotional roles. I’ve not gone through a lot of those same struggles in life because I’ve been fortunate. So when I’m playing a role where the character is broken and suffering, I don’t share their experience but I have to go through an extensive process of asking questions. How would I feel? How can I amplify my empathy to translate what they’re feeling? I have to also make sure that when I go there I’m protecting myself as well. There’s a balance of going there for the performance and then returning to myself.
What do you hope to convey to the audience while you’re acting regardless of the role that you play?
It does depend on the role, but I guess regardless - the one thing is that in some way the audience would be able to sense God’s presence within the show. For example, Mary Poppins never talks about God or faith but there are a lot of Christian values in the story - really in any story. We can always find Jesus in a story. One of my directors said, “In order to fully understand the light you have to acknowledge the darkness.” In any situation, God is always there. God loves art because he can speak through it, He loves theatre, and he can do so much within things you don’t even expect.
Micah is currently acting in the play Lettres et Café which will premiere Friday August 4th at the Theatre in the Round for the Fringe Festival.