When Marissa Simeqi ’25 was four years old, she told her father that she had one dream: to get on stage and perform. Several years later, she achieved this goal. In the summer of 2017, Simeqi participated in a summer camp that led to her first professional acting job: playing Estelle in the New England premiere of the show “Gabriel.”
“People were surprised at first, because I was a really shy kid. But I worked really hard to get on stage. Learning to work as a professional actor was a lot of effort, but it is such an amazing experience,” said Simeqi.
Since then, Simeqi has performed in a variety of productions, including musicals and plays. Through playing roles in shows like “Ragtime” and “Fun Home,” she has won the award for Best Young Performer in New England for two years in a row.
“I do every style… and every experience has been so incredible. I love acting because it can affect the way others feel, but also how I feel. No matter what, there’s always room to improve, and that’s such an exciting challenge,” said Simeqi.
According to Simeqi, the diversity of her roles inspires her to undertake a unique and research-centric approach to each of the productions she participates in. In her biggest show, “Fun Home,” where she played a young Allison Bechdel, Simeqi explored the history of the production, reading the book the play was based on and researching the story of her character, who existed in real life.
“I do a lot of research on my character, because I never want to go into a role without actually knowing why I’m there. I always want to know the story. For ‘Fun Home,’ I knew that my part in the show was to [portray] Bechdel’s childhood years, but I wanted to know the full backstory. I think it helped me a lot for the production, because acting in the role without any prior knowledge would have been a disaster,” said Simeqi.
Through completely immersing herself into the lives and personalities of her characters, Simeqi has been able to develop from each of her roles. Despite the fact that her characters are not always similar to her, their stories are forever incorporated into her daily life and experiences.
“Every character that I’ve played, I’ve taken away something from them. Being in another person’s shoes can really change your perspective on life. It’s made me more aware about my surroundings,” said Simeqi.
A friend of Simeqi’s, Jack Swales ’24 has witnessed her process while preparing together for the show “Urinetown” this Winter. As a fellow castmate and co-Dance Captain, Swales appreciates Simeqi’s ability to understand her characters, celebrating them with her dancing and singing.
“Each character [in “Urinetown”] has their own story to tell within the musical, and [Simeqi] acts as a pregnant woman. That can be a difficult role, because [Simeqi] has to embody that mindset into her dance, but I think she does a really good job doing that,” said Swales.
As Simeqi continues to add more productions under her belt, both at Andover and professionally, she hopes to harness the power of perspective to improve her performances.
“I don’t want to just tell a story. I want to show a story. It’s being active, rather than passive, that makes acting so powerful,” said Simeqi.
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