“Free time, what’s that?” said junior Christopher Ragland, a theater and organizational communication major.
Between taking 18 units, working two jobs, rehearsing for performances and participating in extracurricular organizations such as the Psi Upsilon fraternity, Ragland is constantly moving.
Ragland discovered his love for acting in the third grade. After his first role of Santa Claus in a school play, he was hooked.
Ragland continuously performed in a variety of shows including school choirs, school plays and community theater productions. He loves performing in front of a live audience.
“My passion is theater,” Ragland said. “Entertaining and being in front of people is what I love to do.”
Currently, Ragland is in rehearsals for “City Limits,” the 2002 Songfest March 13-16 in Smothers Theatre. It is a repeat performance for Ragland, who again serves as one of the six hosts introducing and performing numbers between the mini-musicals.
Fraternities, sororities and other organizations on campus group together to create a 12-minute show set in the city of their choice. Celebrity judges such as Barbara Billingsley and Ben Stein have been used in the past to evaluate each group’s talent as they compete for the Songfest trophy.
“Songfest is the most fun thing ever,” Ragland said. “It gets these groups all over campus to perform and be creative. You often see a lot of talent that hasn’t been discovered or used.”
Ragland starred in “The Diviners” last January in Smothers Theatre. He played a 30-year-old preacher in a small Indiana town. Playing a character a decade older than him was challenging, but what he learned from the play and the performance was rewarding.
“The Diviners is a good commentary on faith,” Ragland said. “It shows a real interesting view on how people do what they think is best and bad things still happen.”
Ragland is also a member of the Pepperdine Improvisation Troop (P.I.T.) created last year by theater professor Cathy Thomas-Grant.
This 12-member group performs monthly in the HAWC, creating a show similar to Drew Carey’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Ragland encourages all students to come to the group’s next performances, March 8 and March 22 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door.
“Improvisation makes you think outside the box and risk a little,” Ragland said. “It opens you up and allows you to give more in other performances.”
Ragland discovered Pepperdine when he was a junior in high school at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Having been raised in the Church of Christ, Pepperdine’s Christian mission sweetened the deal.
“I was impressed with the theater program and the money was right, so here I am,” Ragland said.
Ragland fell in love with London while involved in the Edinburgh program the summer after his freshman year. He plans to return this summer to hopefully audition and visit graduate schools such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. After graduate school, he wants to move to New York to pursue the theater.
“Acting is such a lucrative career, but there are no guarantees,” Ragland said. “If you audition for 100 shows and get one, that’s wonderful. I’m nervous about that, but I’m also excited.”
Ragland believes that although the stakes are high, this is the work God wants him to do. This faith in God relieves a lot of the stress associated with his acting aspirations. His family has also been a tremendous support to him.
“I’m so incredibly lucky to have the two best parents in the world,” Ragland said. “They see that I have talent and have been nothing but supportive. They really want me to go after my dreams.”
February 21, 2002