Fleetville actress and director lends talents onstage and off Some people avoid drama in their life. Brink Powell embraces it.
The Fleetville actress not only continues to grace the stages of community theater but also passes down her knowledge and love for the craft to the next generation.
“I just want to give them as many different experiences as possible,” she said.
Powell began acting almost by accident. In eighth grade, a friend decided to audition for a school play and didn’t want to go alone, so she “dragged” Powell along. Powell didn’t get a part, but she did nab a job as understudy for all of the female roles and as propmaster. It gained her a nickname — “Tombstone,” because she forgot a key prop once — but also a look at a new world. She soon found herself acting on stage and has kept going ever since.
“It’s just such a cool thing to go from a bare stage and words on a piece of paper to a whole production,” Powell said.
Powell has acted and helped behind-the-scenes with such groups as Actors Circle, Diva Theater, Wyoming County Players and the Keystone Players at Keystone College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, minors in psychology and theater, and a certification in human resources management. In 2011, she and some friends formed Three Witches Productions and put on three shows with a “shoe-string budget.”
That experienced helped when she took over as dramatics director last year at her alma mater, Lackawanna Trail Junior-Senior High School, where she also works as special-education secretary.
“I got very good at working with very little, and with the state of public schools in general and with the arts ... I do what I can with what I have,” Powell said.
The school puts on one production each spring. While Powell likes musical theater, she doesn’t care for acting in them.
“I’m not a triple threat,” she said with a laugh. “I’m a single threat. I can act.”
Still, Powell understands the importance of exposing youth to a variety of work, so she alternates plays and musicals for Lackawanna Trail’s productions. And she enjoys the collaboration that comes with directing kids.
“They came up with wonderful ideas and were willing to try anything,” Powell explained. “I loved watching them progress and improve from the read-through to the performance. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. I was also really pleased with the fact that with the exception of me having to run lights (and) sound at the last minute, the entire show was student-run. I want to keep that going, because there’s so much more to putting on a show than acting, and I want as many behind-the-scenes roles as possible to be filled by students.”
You never know what can happen in live theater, she said, and she enjoys that thrill the unexpected brings. Powell — who met her husband, John McNulty, while working in theater — believes local theater is important in part because “it’s truly a community that is there for each one another.”
“Over the years, I’ve seen the theater community in our area come together to help out members in so many ways,” she said. “For example, donating clothing and household items when a member lost their home to a fire, putting on benefit concerts or shows to help a member suffering from a serious illness, providing support when someone has a death in their family, etc.
“I think the reason the theater community can pull together like that is because the connections formed during a show last forever, regardless of how often you actually see the person. I’ve always termed these relationships ‘theater friends,’ where you see each other when you’re in a show together and then it might be years before you’re in another show together, but when you finally are, it’s like no time has passed at all.”