Artist of the Week: Madi Widener
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Senior theatre major/sociology minor Madison Widener has found her passions for storytelling, emotion, and the human experience converging in her love for acting. Widener has acted for most of her life, but has found opportunities at Westmont to explore the intersections of her interests, and will finish out her senior year with Sluts Don’t Make Wives--a new play she has written, directed, and will star in.
Widener’s theatrical career began with playing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz when she was in elementary school. “I remember when I got the role, I cried for like a day straight, because I thought I got that part because the director thought I was ugly!” she says, laughing, “So I called her, and she told me she gave me the part because she knew I could do it. There were tons of girls who rotated playing Dorothy, but I was the only Wicked Witch!”
Growing up, Widener mostly acted in conventional plays and musicals, so transitioning into the more experimental theatre at Westmont allowed her to explore new sides of acting. “Before Westmont, I was used to the cliches of how theatre people are, but being in the department has completely broken that stereotype,” she says, “Everyone just really cares about each other, and there’s not really competition for roles; everyone wants everyone else to do good.”
Her favorite role she has played at Westmont was the central character, Erin, in Kristin Idaszak’s Tar and Feather. “It was a very contemporary play, and I think through that, I realized that I like doing contemporary work,” Widener explains, also citing the small cast and student-focused direction as key aspects of her experience.
Widener views theatre and acting as a medium for storytelling and emotion, and finds beauty in the vulnerability that storytelling presents. “Theatre is a way to show a story, instead of just starting facts or opinions,” she says, “It’s like taking people through a journey, showing them someone else’s side of their experience.” Widener also loves the emotional freedom that acting gives, and sees it as a way to explore the way the world works and why people act the way they do, questions she also studies in sociology.
“It’s fun to be someone you’re not, or to do things you wouldn’t normally be doing,” Widener says. However, her senior project Sluts Don’t Make Wives will skew a bit closer to home than some of the other work she’s done at Westmont, investigating the societal pressures that come with being a woman.
“The play is an exploration of the two types of females that society wants women to be; either sweet “good girls,” or someone fun, or “bad.” They want you to be both, but those two things are contradictory; it’s impossible to be both at the same time,” Widener says, “My play goes through some of the experiences I’ve had, and I’ve just made it into theatre. I put some sick rock and roll music in there too, so that’s fun!”
Widener currently works as a Disney princess for parties, mainly playing Ariel, Elsa, and Rey, and plans to explore social work and theatre after college. “Theatre is such a “you get it or you don’t” thing, so we’ll see how it goes, but I’m going to pursue it,” she says, “I want to do work that involves feminist and sociological things, and keep communicating with audiences that way.”
Sluts Don’t Make Wives will play at the Fringe’s downtown venue, the Alhecama Theatre, on April 20 and April 22.