Senior drama student ready to write next chapter of story

Alexander Lieberman

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She was nervous with anticipation, about to perform in her first play. Peeking through the curtains, she could see the audience, her parents sitting out in the crowd to watch their third-grade daughter perform a background role as a fairy. She took a deep breath, then stepped onto the stage. Strangely, senior Samara Malik felt completely at ease.

“I was like ‘I wanna be here forever – that’s what I want to do,’  Malik said. While attending Tiburon’s Bel Aire Elementary School, Malik decided to drop her the sports she played and participate in the school play.

“From then on I quit every sport I played and I did the play next year and after school plays after that—it was a total life change,” Malik said.

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Samara Malik has pursued her devotion to acting and drama since the third grade.

Ever since that day, Malik has steadily advanced in drama programs throughout middle and high school. Her involvement with the Redwood drama program has fostered a sense of community with her fellow drama students, which she describes as an accepting environment that has helped her feel more connected to the Redwood community.  

In her first year in the drama, she took on a background role in the Advanced Drama play Animal Crackers, a comedic musical production put on by Redwood’s student-run drama program EPiC.Despite only being a freshman working with juniors and seniors on the play, Malik felt accepted as part of the drama community.

“It was so much fun getting to know the upperclassmen who were so happy to have me there and so inclusivethey didn’t really care that I was a freshman. We were all there having fun, and it was just an incredible introduction to Redwood and its community and drama especially,” Malik said.

Britt Block, EPIC’s advanced drama teacher, recognizes the significance of Malik seizing her opportunity.

“Theater is about showing upwho wants it, who has an appetite for theater to happen. That’s how all theater happens because

Malik performs a song in

Malik performs a song in “Plan 9 From Outer Space: The Musical” alongside senior Lucas Marchi and junior Ellah Chapman

somebody wants it to happen. So I went to the beginning classes and asked who would want to be in the chorus of Animal Crackers, and she and one other student said they did, and both of them are interns in the theater company now,” Block said.

Malik is preparing to advance her drama education further by attending Northwestern University. She will be taking classes starting this fall in the Department of Theatre.

“One thing that drew me to the program was its small size and its hands-on learning. Everything is about getting you on that stage and learning through the work. And I’m really excited about being in that place where everybody is there because that’s what they love. And everyone is there because that’s what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” Malik said.

In addition to being attracted to the program’s small size, Malik is also excited about the unique opportunities Northwestern offers.

“You can really customize those core classes. So you have to take Monologuing, you have to take Accents. You can choose to take Actor Gym, where you go into Chicago and you go into a professional actor gym, which is like a regular gym but it’s like black blocks and sets for you to climb all over. It’s those opportunities that Northwestern offered to try these new things that really drew me to it,” Malik said.

After having taught Malik in several drama classes throughout her time at Redwood, Block has noticed how Malik has developed as a drama student.

“Samara’s always been very enthusiastic and committed, and that hasn’t changed. She’s always taking on responsibility, she’s always stepping up. Her appetite for more responsibility has increased,” Block said.

Malik performs a monologue that will be performed during a currently untitled show to be performed at the Motherlode Theater Festival

Malik performs a monologue that will be performed during a currently untitled show to be performed at the Motherlode Theater Festival

Not only is Malik involved with Redwood’s drama program, but she also participates in the Marin Theater Company (MTC), a professional theater company located in Mill Valley, taking and teaching youth classes. She has noticed some significant differences between the programs, as well as being given additional opportunities in MTC. Participating in MTC gave Malik the opportunity to direct a children’s musical.

Malik’s experiences in directing at MTC have led her to direct a play at Redwood. She is currently directing a sophomore play called “Awesome Ghosts of Ontario.” The comedy tells the story of a girl who is obsessed with ghost hunting. She drags her sister, cousin, and friend out to the woods of Ontario to go ghost hunting.

MTC helps its students learn about theater by bringing in local theater professionals.

“For our summer camps, when she was assistant director, we hired professional directors who work with big-name companies all around the Bay Area, as well as professional musical directors, choreographers, and the entire design team as well, we strive to make those performance experiences as close to the real thing as what professional theater would look like as possible,” said MTC Director of Education Ashleigh Worley.

Working with professionals in the field has helped Malik advance her theatre directing skills.  She has been able to observe professional directors and learn how they approach various characters and situations within a story. This experience has helped her especially as she works on a new play called “The Wolves“ for MTC.

Malik (in her sophomore year) performs the story of a children’s book called “Wodney Wat” for elementary school students at Neil Cummins

Malik (in her sophomore year) performs the story of a children’s book called “Wodney Wat” for elementary school students at Neil Cummins Elementary School.

In addition to helping her with directing, Malik has noticed how working directly with professionals has helped her with the classes she teaches at MTC.

“When I taught younger kids, I was breaking down what I already knew and found myself going ‘Huh, haven’t worked on that in a while’ or ‘Oh my god this is how I can do this for that character!’ or even in some cases I was learning new skills as I was teaching them,’” Malik said.

Malik believes that both programs have prepared her for a hopeful future in the theatre industry.

“The opportunities to act in incredible plays and be a part of those and learning about the culture of theater has been really cool. If you put in the work, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what your background is; you have the ability to make great art,” Malik said.

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