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Kyle Payne: Theatre

New York City, NY
Major: Theater
Minors: Spanish and Child Development

So why does a young man, growing up in Jackson Heights, New York, attending a small, private, all-scholarship Jesuit high school in Manhattan -- a young man deeply interested in theatre, Spanish and child development - decide to come to Indiana University and the Robert E. Cook Honors College?

Lots of reasons. I'd been living in New York and I wanted to see the country. After attending a boarding school for four years, I liked the idea of living with the same people you study with. And, of course, the Honors College itself was a big draw. I looked at half a dozen other liberal arts colleges that seemed good, but they cost $30,000 a year and up! And then I checked out the Honors College and I liked it because it was small, everyone said 'hi' to each other, and the core curriculum interested me, so I came here, sat in on a class, and what it said in the brochure actually seemed to be true.

The brochures speak of the Honors College as a "Community of Scholars." Did Kyle Payne find that to be true as well?

I know 'Community of Scholars' might sound trite to someone, but if I have to describe the Honors College, the word 'community' comes to mind immediately. I like it that everybody knows one another. I like it that you can go down the hall and talk about pretty much anything because everyone in Whitmyre is knowledgeable enough to have an intelligent conversation about anything current, from world news down to what's happening at IUP. And it seems each person also has his or her own expertise. If you talk to Matt, he could tell you how to fix a PC. Someone else might know a lot about history, or math or literature. I like the sense of…inquisitiveness…the legitimate passion about whatever subject they are studying.

And, as a theatre major, does Kyle Payne find his own passion, both for study and performance, satisfied?

I like the theatre department because it's centered on exposing you to ALL of theatre, by exposing you to all parts…light, sound, acting, scenery…and there is a practicum requirement where you're required to work so many hours on productions in various capacities. And, aside from that, the theatre department is almost like being a family. Everyone goes by their first names, including our professors. I've been to two of the professor's houses. One invited the whole cast over to her house for a Friday night spaghetti dinner. This is different from other schools. There are half a dozen or so theatre professors, so the department feels small, so you get to know everyone, a place where you feel really comfortable. And because it's not so huge, you have more opportunities to get cast. If I'd stayed in New York, I might not have had the chance to be selected. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do the things that I did here. And I get to work closely with faculty who are really knowledgeable about their specialties. For example, one professor with an engineering background compares set construction to building suspension bridges -- and does careful calculations for the sets, teaching us the real basics. Most of the professors here have worked in professional situations relating to what they teach us and some are still doing professional work with outside theatre groups. What can I say? There is a bunch of really good people here!

And what is Kyle Payne planning to do with his minor in Spanish and Child Development? Where will all this take him?

I'll probably try acting first -- go to New York and audition for some plays, because it'd be fun, just to see, just on the off chance I might get cast. In any case, I like working with people, and if it's not in acting, then I see a career as a teacher, where I'd have a chance to work with young people. I like kids and I'd say my father was a very big influence on me. He used to teach basketball at our parish and he was head of the clinic. I work at summer camps, teaching various things from religion to sports to juggling. And, last summer I was on the board with my father and some others who co-designed a new summer camp that will run again this summer - the Catholic Charities Summer Discovery Camp. While I was still in high school, I spent the summer of '98 in Ecuador, teaching classes to children, giving skills lessons to adults, teaching all kinds of things, including auto repair. Being in a Third World Country is one of those things that stays with you, that can change your outlook on things, make you think about others, not concentrate so much on yourself. Then, at IUP, I went to Costa Rica, this past summer, to take classes completely in Spanish, and where I lived with a local family. If you got hungry, you had to learn to ask for it in Spanish. I took three classes - communication, grammar and a course on Costa Rican culture. Then I went to Cambridge University in England for part of the summer, and studied there! Now, for 2002, I'm planning to do the UDLA Program, where you take a semester -- or a year -- of study at the Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. If you find yourself a study abroad program, or an internship that you want to do, the Honors College really helps you find some way to pay for it. And, the Honors College encourages you to contact individual departments, because they also have good information about opportunities -- such as the Cambridge general studies program that I went on in the summer of 2002. This summer, I am running a Benefit Performance for the organization I worked for in Quito, Ecuador back in '98. There will two performances of a play compiled of famous comedic pieces and some original works by myself and others to raise money.

Kyle’s Accomplishments 

Theater/Dance Performances

  • Ezekiel Cheever in "Crucible"
  • Paul (shared role) in "6 Rooms Riverview"
  • Lead in "Fortinbras
  • "Jake, in "Check Please!", an original Student play Written by Marta McChesney
  • Co-choreographer and acted/danced as Mr. Green in "Clue"
  • Pepe in "West Side Story"

Study Abroad

  • Costa Rica, Summer, 2000
  • Cambridge University, England, Summer, 2000


  • Spanish