There are big things on the horizon for YC senior Deidre Freitas. Amid juggling the usual end of semester chaos, she’s also designing sets and costumes, doing extra homework on European philosophers, and looking for an apartment (they call them flats there) to rent in a suburb of London. There’s a lot going on for Freitas, a native of McCool Junction, in the next few weeks and months. She will direct her senior capstone project at YC  days before graduation, hop on a plane for a six week study abroad trip, and then move to England to start graduate school.

It’s overwhelming, but Freitas is excited about all of the upcoming opportunities. “This is just my face now,” she says with a huge grin. “I look like this all the time.”

Exploring Certainty in Doubt
Freitas will be directing the show Doubt, A Parable as her final project for her theatre-track communication degree. The show will be performed April 19 & 20 at York College in the Gurganus Scene Shop Theatre. All are welcome to attend these free performances and no tickets are required, however due to mature themes, the show isn’t recommended for children.

The winner of a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize, Doubt deals with race, gender, power, religion, and the nature of truth. “I chose this script because I think it’s an important conversation to have about abuse of power, treating people who are not normally seen...people who don’t fit for whatever reason...treating them like they belong at the table,” said Freitas.

The play is intentionally open-ended--just like life. “You come out of this NOT knowing what really happened or what to think,” Freitas said. “I think the biggest take away will be that we’re not always sure that our assumptions are true and moments when we are most certain can also be the times when we are the least right.”

It’s a challenging script that forces the cast as well as the audience to wrestle with their own experiences and thought processes. “We like it when the person who has done wrong gets what they deserve. But when you don’t know if they did anything wrong or if it was all just speculation, it makes you uncomfortable. When I first read it, I sat there and simmered for a while, thinking ‘This isn’t fair! I want to know what the answer is!’ but I think becoming comfortable in the uncomfortable is important.”

Freitas is unperturbed about the possibility that the show might offend some audience members. “It’s definitely going to make people feel some things and I’m excited for that. Senior projects are meant to be challenging and exploratory. These shows are meant to make us think outside the box,” she said.
PictureFreitas (center) performs in the 2018 York College Traveling Children's Theatre production of 'Cinderella with the Commedia Players.'
Learning through Experience
Learning how to direct her peers at various levels has been a challenge and a joy for Freitas, who has previously directed two one-act shows at YC. She has been heavily involved in the theatre program in her four years at York College, appearing in numerous mainstage and children’s theatre productions. She also found time to participate in a social club; serve on student government, residence hall staff, and (briefly) campus ministries; and perform in choir and Songfest. Her dedication to her studies also gained her entrance into two academic honor societies. 

Like many college students, Freitas had to overextend to learn her limits. “Activities are great and being involved is good, but knowing what you truly care about and what you want to put your time and energy in is the best,” she said. 

All of her experiences at York have been essential to her growth as a person and to overcoming trauma in her young life. “Being involved has helped me so much in seeing all of the good traits that I bring to the table,” she said. “There has been such a drastic change from who I was as an 18-year-old and who I am now. I came in very vulnerable and a pretty broken person…as I’ve grown as a student and performer, I’ve realized being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing. Without seeing the broken parts inside of you and inside of other people, you can’t truly connect...The things I’ve been a part of on this campus have all made me stronger and more aware of who I am as a person.”

Opportunities Abroad
After graduation, Freitas will spend six weeks in Europe with the York College study abroad program. Five weeks will be with the full academic cohort in Vienna taking classes in psychology and Bible. That will be followed by ten days of free travel, including Italy and Switzerland. This experience will be a warm up for her move to England in the fall. Freitas has been accepted to the University of Essex East 15 Acting School for a two-year MFA program in directing. Part of the program will also involve an intensive short course in either Russia or Indonesia. 

The rigorous international program at Essex was her first choice, but she applied to a few other schools as well. When she made it to the interview round, she tried to keep her expectations low. She traveled to Chicago to interview, all the while telling herself, “Even if I don’t get in, this school wanted to talk to me, so that’s pretty great!”

A week later she was sitting the Campbell Student Activity Center, checking her phone before chapel, when the email arrived. “I started shaking,” she recalled. Two of her friends were standing nearby and asked her what was wrong. “I started repeating ‘I got in! I got in! I got in!’ Then there was a lot of screaming and hugging,” she said.  

The town where she’ll be living will be 30 minutes from London via the tube. She is excited for the coursework, such as a class on directing for the camera. “In my future career, I want to direct for the stage, for television, and possibly film and so getting to take a class that shows the difference in those mediums will be helpful,” she said. And the class on directing Shakespeare? Freitas is thrilled to have the chance to learn all about it near the Bard’s hometown.

“Harry Potter jokes aside, England is one of the places I’ve wanted to visit most, and I now get to live there for two years,” said Freitas. “I’m going to live every British fantasy...If they have a quidditch team, you know I’m going to join that thing.”
Freitas (center, red shirt) with the cast of the 2018 York College production of 'Belleweather.'