Humans of Harker: Act it out

Sarah Raymond develops her passions in art and theater

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Esha Gohil

“Some things are out of your hands, and all you can do is put your best foot forward, and then whatever happens happens. I don’t want to necessarily become anyone, I just want to be a better version of myself . . .  I want to be remembered as a really kind person and a good friend,” Sarah Raymond (12) said.

If you’re a Harker student, you’ve definitely seen Sarah Raymond (12) on stage. From acting in the Student Directed Showcase (SDS) to participating in the fall play, the musical and Downbeat, Sarah devotes herself to her craft wholeheartedly. Rehearsals have become an integral part of Sarah’s daily life, as she hopes to achieve something beyond being a member in a show or a character in a play.

“Being on stage is fun for me. I think the payoff is really satisfying for me too,” Sarah said. “When I spend a lot of time and effort learning a show, then perform it, and everyone really likes it, I think that’s really satisfying.”

Sarah began her journey with performing arts at the age of 5, but she had also engaged in other activities such as sports and art. As she entered high school, her time was limited, and she had to make a choice between her many diverse interests.

“I had to learn how to prioritize and ultimately, [and] I decided that theater was my number one choice. So, I don’t regret dropping any of the other activities that I did for theater,” Sarah said.

Although she no longer has time to go to the art studio, do life drawings and attend portfolio classes, Sarah continues to pursue these interests in her free time as hobbies while she dedicates the majority of her time to theater. In her years of performing, Sarah has truly found a second family in the theater community and loves to collaborate with her castmates to produce powerful performances.

“A lot of it has to do with the friends that I made doing theater and the theater community as a whole, because it’s just a very accepting, welcoming, friendly place where you can really be yourself,” Sarah said. “A big motivator for me for doing shows is getting to spend time with my friends and working together towards a common goal I just find it really fun. There’s just something about theater that draws me back every time.”

Upper school theater teacher Jeffrey Draper, who has been working with Sarah for the past three years, speaks about her growth as an actress.

“[Sarah]’s evolutionary. She was working on her character and she was digging and trying to find the character. It was great to see her go through a long and beautiful process of discovery,” Draper said. “And because she was so determined but also so crafty, she was able to achieve something bigger.”

Others also bear witness to how hard Sarah works to develop her characters. Close friend and castmate since middle school Alex Kumar (12) enjoys performing with her and getting to watch the fruits of her hard work unfold on stage.

“She is such a great actor when she is on stage she is super fun to watch,” Alex said. “The characters she plays are powerful, unique and convincing.”

Close friend since sixth grade Maya Franz (12) digs deeper into the methodology that goes into Sarah’s acting. She praises Sarah’s talent and hard work that she observes in her performances.

“She always commits one hundred percent. She’s really good at finding nuance and characters, and she really goes the extra mile to breathe life into certain characters and make it come across as really realistic,” Maya said.

Though Sarah continues to pursue her passion of acting on stage, she has developed and grown from previous challenges. With hundreds of audience members sitting more than 100 feet away, actors must exaggerate their expressions so that their emotions can reach and engage everyone. Through years of gaining experience in the acting world, Sarah has learned to adapt to being on stage and overcoming her fears while performing on stage. 

“I’m less self-conscious now than I was because I’ve done it so much … I’ve become more confident, like the imposter syndrome [has gone away],” Sarah said. “I trust the process, [and] I have to slog through the rehearsals that can be kind of embarrassing at times in order to get to this end result, but that’s going to look really good, and then translate really well, to be something really powerful.”

Sarah’s enthusiasm for performances carries on into her interactions with friends. Close friend and castmate Alissa Gao (12) admires her as a great actor as well as a valuable friend.

“She’s always the person to go to when you are looking for a laugh. But, she is also the person to go to when you are struggling with anything,” Alissa said. “She’s always there to give support.”

Sarah herself echoes these sentiments. Although she enjoys the thrill of performing on stage with her peers with her seemingly endless store of energy, there’s a difference between her stage persona and her actual personality. Face to face, Sarah is softer and a little more contemplative. 

“That difference is pretty stark because I am an outgoing introvert. People tend to see me as someone who is very excitable … happy and bubbly, which is true,” Sarah said. “But then at the same time … I really enjoy just sitting alone in the dark with a bag of chips and some Netflix. I need that time to recharge and recuperate after a long day of being at one hundred [percent] all the time.”

Though she remains energized and optimistic with friends, Sarah enjoys her moments of calmness and privacy. It’s during these times that she is able to reflect on what she has learned from the stage, from her audience and from those around her.

While Sarah learns a lot from engaging in her activities, she continues to grow as a person beyond performing arts. One thing she always values is the importance of caring for those around her. 

“Some things are out of your hands, and all you can do is put your best foot forward, and then whatever happens happens. I don’t want to necessarily become anyone, I just want to be a better version of myself . . .  I want to be remembered as a really kind person and a good friend,” Sarah said.