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Orientation and a Fan-Girl Moment

Third-year drama student Jasminn Johnson set herself the goal of reading one scene of Shakespeare every day this summer. The trick was that she had to squeeze it in between two jobs at the beginning of the summer and a high-profile performance at the end. In addition to working in the Office of Student Affairs (O.S.A.) preparing for orientation in June and July, Johnson also served as an usher in the acclaimed production of Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston. At the end of July, she and seven classmates traveled to Scotland to perform the Lear-inspired Minetti in collaboration with London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the Edinburgh Festival. Johnson, who received the Rita Gold Drama Award and the Irene Diamond Scholarship and is originally from Myrtle Beach, S.C., recounted her busy June 18.

Jasminn Johnson

(Photo by Luke Fontana)


7:30 a.m. First alarm goes off. I hit snooze and take a few minutes to come to full consciousness and go over what needs to be done today. 

7:40 a. m. Second alarm. Off to shower and get dressed when I notice large chunks of dirt all over the floor. I trekked mud in from work last night—again. 

8:23 a.m. I make my lunch—hummus and seaweed sandwiches on rice cakes with mangos, strawberries, and cherries—and dinner—quinoa cakes with sweet potato and tuna with grapes. I’m on a bit of a health kick.

8:56 a.m. I clean the mud off my shoes and put them in my bag with my black pants. I spray my Armory staff T-shirt with lavender oil to freshen it—I’ve now worn it four nights in a row.

9:17 a.m. On the A train to Juilliard, eating a Luna Bar and reading a scene from Macbeth.

10 a.m. Today we’re filming some videos about orientation for the website. Noah Averbach-Katz, a fellow drama student and O.S.A. employee, and I review our script for the first video: “How to Create a Student Group.” Then Mel Hoodlett [coordinator of student activities] briefs us about some of this week’s orientation tasks: putting together outing books and organizing the Drama orientation schedule. She also shows us the orientation T-shirt design—Capture the Moment on the front and #JuilliardCaptureTheMoment on the back—so students can share their captured moments on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

10:52 a.m. Our classmate David Corenswett, who’s shooting the video, arrives and we start setting up in the Student Lounge. 

11:14 a.m. Noah and I keep fumbling over the lines and having trouble getting through the first couple of takes without laughing. It’s still a bit early to be actor-ready! 

11:36 a.m. We’ve composed ourselves and are almost done—we watch a couple of takes and it looks fantastic. David’s a real pro.

12:07 p.m. Noah leaves and David and I start working on the second video, “How to Use Your Meal Plan.” We talk about what needs to be added to the script and add helpful hints like how to get through quickly during the peak hours. 

12:16 p.m. We get to the Juilliard/SAB Café to find the pizza/grill stations are undergoing a serious renovation, so we schedule a time to come and film next week. A slight wrench in our plan, but there is plenty of prep left to do back in the O.S.A. 

1:14 p.m. After lunch on the Illumination Lawn with my friend Francesca—she’s just back from a service trip in Tanzania—we head to the Drama Office to say hello to everyone and fill out travel forms. We’re headed to London with six other classmates to rehearse for a show that will be in the Edinburgh Festival. 

1:30 p.m. I’m back in the O.S.A. unpacking and organizing new board games and puzzles. Important lesson: if you’re writing “OSA” on a puzzle box, don’t write it over the picture. 

8:34 p.m. My back begins to ache (I’ve been standing for a little more than two hours), but then my favorite scene—the one I was reading on the train this morning—begins. It’s Act IV, Scene 3, when Macduff finds out his family has just been slaughtered by Macbeth. The actor playing Macduff, Richard Coyle, is brilliant every night. 

9:18 p.m. The show ends and the stunned audience begins to head out. Jude Law stops to ask me where the V.I.P.s go backstage. I tell him who to meet in the lobby. He grabs my arm and says “Thanks, love.” I try to keep it in but can’t stop giggling. 

9:32 p.m. We finish cleaning the leftover programs and water bottles from our sections, fill out our timesheets, and head home. 

9:47 p.m. I rush to catch the crosstown bus while calling my mom to fan-girl about my Jude Law run-in. 

10:03 p.m. On the uptown A, I reread my favorite scene of the show: “Fit to govern? No, not to live.” 

10:37 p.m. I run into a friend on the street and we agree we should get together in that way that implies we probably won’t by summer’s end. 

10:42 p.m. Remember to leave my shoes by the door this time. I snack on some ginger snaps and sift through email and text messages I didn’t reply to during the day. 

11:10 p.m. I get ready for bed and hang my Armory T-shirt for the next day. And then I load an episode of Orange Is the New Black, only to drift to sleep before it begins.

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