A chat with a vocal feminist
Walking out of the rehearsal space, she’s ready to collapse. There are only a few more days until opening night, and although all she wants to do is sleep, she has to finish a psychology essay before bed. Tomorrow is another early day, but for MyKel Marie Hall, busy schedules are the strongest motivators.
The sophomore theatre arts and psychology double major from West Jordan took time out of her schedule to sit down for an interview with Thunderground so she could share her thoughts on school, religion and feminism.
According to Hall, she has been interested in psychology since she can remember. One reason she decided to pursue the field of study was because she believes it can positively affect lives.
“So many of our problems are coming from the fact that people can’t talk about emotions and feelings and what’s going on,” Hall said. “Society believes that if there is no physical manifestation, then clearly you are not hurt, which is bullshit.”
During her sophomore year of high school, Hall got involved in the theatrical arts. She said that although it sounds like a cliché, theatre saved her life.
“(Theatre) taught me how to be human and how the human experience is so beautiful,” she said. “I sound like some crazy liberal artist, but theatre introduced me to this side I never saw of humanity.
I was taught growing up that vulnerability was weakness and theatre taught me that vulnerability is strength.”
Starting as an actor, Hall participated in every one of her school’s plays until the final one of her sophomore year. She didn’t want to act in a musical, so she planned on ending the year by focusing on school. However, a friend asked her if she wanted to try out stage managing.
“I was committed (to theatre), but I didn’t want to do it forever,” Hall said. “Stage management changed that. I staged managed ‘Shrek the Musical’ — it was a horrific experience — but it still was art and to this day I love that cast.”
Hall delved into the technical side of the theatrical arts more during her senior year, where she worked on light design for “Mary Poppins.” After this, she took every opportunity she could get to experiment with light design.
Later that year, while working on “Man of La Mancha,” Hall committed to continue theatre in college.
“I was going back and forth between if I was going to do theatre or not, and the show reminded me how important art is,” she said. “I ended up light designing and stage managing it, and I loved the show. I didn’t think I would, but I did.”
Since coming to SUU last year, Hall has kept herself busy with projects. She was an assistant stage manager for both “Twelfth Night” and “Die Fledermaus,” and she light designed “The Airport Project” and “The Romans in Britain.”
Hall earned the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s fellowship in stage management, and over the summer, she was a production assistant for “The Greenshow” and “How to Fight Loneliness.” She also was the orchestra tech for “Guys and Dolls.”
“That experience in particular was cool because I worked on a play with a living playwright, and everyone is so talented at USF,” she said. “Even though they probably don’t remember my name at this point, just seeing them and being involved in the rehearsal process was so cool.”
Last month, Hall was the stage manager of “Assassins,” a show that she said has helped her grow.
“There were so many moving elements, like the slipstage, the curtain and fog, and there were so many light cues, spot-ops and sound effects,” she said. “I got to work on a really challenging show and experience a lot of the elements a stage manager does.”
After graduating, Hall wants to work in many fields. She said she wants to be a stage manager while working toward a Ph.D. in neuroscience or cognitive science. She then wants to merge her areas of interest together.
“I want to go to a theatre company and do cognitive theatre experiments because I think that’s an untapped field that we could look into,” she said. “It’s messy, but I think we can learn a lot more about the human brain with it. But who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind and be a PE teacher.”
Before graduating, however, Hall is going to take a break from school so she can serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hall said that one day while sitting in Institute, she got a “spiritual kick in the face.”
“I have such a strong desire to share the gospel and I have such a strong desire to bring happiness to people,” she said. “The mission is about God’s love for his children, it’s about that path and that experience. There’s a God in Heaven who loves you and he’s not just an almighty, all-powerful deity — he’s your Heavenly Father. I think that’s so beautiful and so impactful."
In January, Hall plans to submit her mission papers. She said her main reason for going is to improve the lives of others.
“I want to spread more light than darkness, to bring more joy and love into the world,” Hall said. “At the end of the day, my mission is to remind people that God and Christ love them and that they are not alone.”
In addition to being a religious individual, Hall is a vocal feminist. When asked about her beliefs, she answered passionately.
“Women. Should. Be. Equal. To. Men.” she said. “It just — it blows my mind that there are people who are like ‘women should get less pay, they shouldn’t have as many rights, they can’t control their bodies.’ Oh. My. Lord. It is 2017 and we are still having this debate. I still get disrespected all the time because I’m a woman.”
Last semester, Hall worked in marketing, and one of her jobs was to work with current and potential advertisers. She said that being a woman made this difficult at times.
“My name reads as a guy, and the moment they find out, they’ll be all about it,” she said. “They were like ‘yeah, I would love to advertise with you,’ and the moment they heard my female voice on the phone, they would shut down and have no respect for me. It sucked.”
Although she supports women pushing forward in male-dominated areas, Hall said that she gets upset when people tell women that they shouldn’t follow their passions if they’re too “traditional.”
“There are some people who want to be stay-at-home moms, and they deserve all of my respect,” she said.
One of Hall’s friends wants to be a teacher, and she has had women tell her that she’s been conditioned to pursue it.
“I don’t care where she’s living, I’m living near her so she can teach my kids,” Hall said. “That’s how good I know she’ll be. People say, ‘You really want to be a school teacher? That’s Mormon culture pushing you to do that.’ I’m like, really, it’s 2017, and you don’t think that she, a feminist, doesn’t know that she wants to be a teacher?”
Despite the frustration, Hall said that the best way to share feminist ideals is by being open and calm, something that she struggles with at times.
“If I have someone come up to me and tell me that I’m less of a person because I’m a woman, I might swing,” she said. “Listening to the Gospel, following Christ’s commandments and turning the other cheek, I get it, but I’m a firecracker and I will freaking launch.”
When asked what she thought the biggest issue facing women today was, she said that no matter what she does, someone will be upset about a choice a woman makes.
“You’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re too skinny —
The world is so controlling,” she said. “ A woman can’t have the freedom to choose because whatever they do, the world has a problem with it. Having kids, not having kids, getting married, not getting married — you cannot, as a woman, pick any side and have people respect it. There will always be a pretty large group who believe they have a right to comment on my life.”
Looking down at her watch, Hall jumps up from her seat and grabs her backpack. She lost track of time while talking about her outlook on the world and is almost late for a class. Walking toward the stairwell with a smile on her face, she prepares to dive back into the craziness of her everyday life.