From starting pistol to theater stage
Whether she is running on the track at the Olympics or acting on the stage at University of Idaho’s Hartung Theater, Angela Whyte gives the same amount of dedication.
“It’s really fun having a professional athlete on the cast,” Director David Lee-Painter said. “She certainly understands about the work ethic involved, you know professional athletes are trained many hours every day and every week and she’s brought that same work ethic to the theater.”
Whyte, a UI graduate, placed sixth in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2004 Summer Olympics representing Canada, the first of three Olympic competitions in which she has competed. She also holds 13 track and field records at the UI and is an all-time top point-scorer, according to a press release.
Now, she is taking to the stage in the upcoming UI production of Anton in Show Business.
Whyte said that while athletics and acting have their differences, there are also a few parallels.
“We do a lot of muscle memory in track so it’s just practice and practice and practice,” Whyte said. “It’s the same thing (in theater), except I’m getting to use my mind. So it’s almost essentially the same … but at the same time it’s a completely different and new world that has opened up pathways for my mind.”
Whyte has seen past productions at the university and said that while she has always enjoyed the art of theater she never really saw herself being very involved in it. That is, until Lee-Painter asked if she would like to have a part in this production.
“I honestly thought it was going to be a very, very minor role,” Whyte said. “Then after being cast … I realized wait a second, I’m playing three characters and there are a lot of lines and I honestly freaked out a little bit.”
Lee-Painter said that despite her lack of experience, Whyte is a dream to work with, bringing with her the work ethic of a professional athlete.
“She is incredibly prepared, doing everything that needs to be done outside of rehearsal to make it work, and I think that has been really inspiring for the student actors as well,” Lee-Painter said
Whyte said it was intimidating at first to step into an experience where more people relied on her performance than just herself, being accustomed to an individual sport like track. She didn’t want to let anybody down.
“Everyone is so great and you can tell that they’ve worked really hard at their art,” Whyte said. “And then here I come, just some dumb jock walking into the theater.When I’m on the track it’s me, myself and I in one lane but now I’ve got to interact and make sure I’m on the same level with the team.”
Lee-Painter said Whyte has fit in well to the theatre environment.
“She is just one of the warmest and funniest people you’ll ever meet,” Lee-Painter said. “She puts everybody at ease all the time, as well as just being such a generous and kind person.”
Whyte said she is taking it year by year, but she is considering trying out for the 2016 Olympics. She is still training and is currently a volunteer assistant with the UI track team. She said that, although it has been a challenge to manage her time with all of her responsibilities, she has really enjoyed this theatre experience.
“I got bit by the (theatre) bug,” Whyte said. “I’m just hoping to do a good job so that I don’t let my cast mates down.”
Kaitlin Moroney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org