Seth Gilstrap is familiar with both the joy and the hard work that theater requires. He gets joy from performing and hard work from working with Theatre Bristol’s children’s camp.
“Being camp coordinator for Theatre Bristol has been nothing short of arduous every year. Coming up with a theme, planning the events for every day, making sure we have teachers for every class and communicating with all the parents and counselors is never easy, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love every minute of it. It’s all worth it to see these children in our community learn and grow as actors and performers. Most of the kids are shy and timid at the beginning of the week, but as camp goes on, it’s so fulfilling to see them all come out of their shells and make new friends while having a blast. Not a lot of kids would enjoy reading Shakespeare, so I’m really glad that we’re able to show the kids firsthand that theater can actually be a ton of fun. Seeing them all learn and grow throughout the week and helping them put together their own plays to perform for parents at the end makes running camp an absolute pleasure and an honor,” Seth says.
He primarily performs on the Theatre Bristol stage, but he was also involved with drama at Sullivan East High School.
“I’d always been one for theatrics growing up, but I performed in my first theater production in 2014 after my best friend tricked me into going to auditions for ‘Scrooge! The Musical’ at Theatre Bristol. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with performing, and I have had the pleasure to perform in several other plays and musicals at Theatre Bristol and in my high school’s drama department.
“I love performing on stage because it’s such a fleeting yet fantastic form of art and expression. While it’s possible to watch past performances, nothing can compare to being in the moment of hitting every note in a song or performing a monologue with perfect expression and rhythm.
“My favorite aspect of theater is singing and dancing. Putting in the time and effort into a great musical number and having a standing ovation from an audience after it plays out perfectly is one of the best feelings I can imagine. Theater is such an incredible form of art. I love to watch it, and I love to perform it. It provides variety in entertainment and a priceless form of expression. Theater allows us to tell stories in such an incredible and enjoyable way.
“As a performer, I really love to perform in musical theater productions. It’s a performer’s job to entertain their audience, and to me, musicals are just so much fun to watch and perform in. They’re loud and flashy and always right in your face with singing and dancing. A good musical will always have the audience moving to the music and wanting to sing along,” he says.
His favorite role, thus far, is Algernon from “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. “His trivial nature and theamount that he eats throughout the play was beyond entertaining. My counterpart, Jack, was played by mybest friend, and our back-and-forth witty banter was a delight and felt so natural. Unfortunately, I don’t have much coming up in terms of theater in the near future since theaters everywhere have shut down. If I am able to, I’d love to audition for ‘The Sound of Music’ at Theatre Bristol in the summer, and hopefullyexpand to other theaters in the future as well.” Seth says.
He is influenced and inspired by Glenn Patterson, a director at Theatre Bristol. “His passion and drive for theater inspires me in every show he directs. He’s always pushed me to be better as a performer, and he increases my love and appreciation for the art of theater every time I work with him,” he says.
Seth performs with the Bucsworth Tenor Bass Choir at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, where he studies IT computing. He is a junior at ETSU and the son of Wendy and Joe Fate of Bluff City, Tennessee.