Lyndsey Mugford ’19 Reflects on the Arts at Milton

Interview by ADELAIDE COPE ‘22

Our seniors this year have made a mark on our arts departments here at Milton. From fall to spring, the class of 2019 has proved to be talented, engaged, and active in the arts. But, conversely, what impact has this department made on them? In this interview, Lyndsey Mugford ’19 reveals a little about her experience with the performing arts and how they have shaped her time at Milton.

What kinds of arts activities have you participated in here?

“I’ve done theatre all four years, and for that, I’ve always done two shows a year because I play basketball in the winter. Every fall and every spring I’ve been in a show, either on the main stage or 1212, and then I have also done speech all 4 years, and I was a captain this year. I’ve done Improv Club all 4 years, and I’ve been a head for three years.”

What has been your favorite production to take part in?

“Sketchy. Always Wicked Sketchy. And I’ve loved so many productions: like, Tartuffe was great, Addams family was great. But the thing about Sketchy is that it’s so different from every other show. There are some moments when you hate the process, and you’re frustrated, or you don’t feel like you’re funny, or you just can’t get into a flow. But no matter what, you, as a cast, work through those moments together, and somehow, miraculously, the end product always comes together at the last minute. You look at it like: “oh my gosh! I made that.” We really are doing everything ourselves. Everything is us, and as a result, I think that makes the cast get really tight knit.”

Who has had the most significant influence on your arts career at Milton?

“Mr. Parisi, of course. I met him in my freshman performing arts class, first semester. He has been the most consistent and vocal and the earliest person to encourage me to really keep taking artistic risks, which was something that I really struggled with for a little bit. From the jump, I feel like he believed in me, and he introduced me to comedy writing. And also the speech coaches: Ms. J-B and Ms. Marianelli, who was the old speech coach.”

What are some challenges you’ve faced during your arts career at Milton? How did you tackle those challenges?

“I think the main one I faced, especially early on, was confidence. And especially in comedy and improv spaces because I was a very shy freshman. In Improv Club, I remember I would show up late because I’d be so nervous. I was so nervous about messing up and embarrassing myself, but I made it my goal to volunteer once a club meeting. It was very difficult for me, but I always did it, and even just doing that helped so much. Wicked Sketchy specifically, whenever I had to figure out a funny bit or a physical comedy bit, there’s always that first moment when you just have to say your idea, and that is so scary. The last thing you want is to try something and just hear dead air, or worse, the wrong kind of laughter. I think that’s something I still feel, but the difference is, as I’ve gone through Milton, with the help of castmates and directors, I’ve gotten better at not letting the fear stop me from pitching ideas or taking a risk. I still feel it though, but I think I’ve become more confident in that the things I have to contribute. They’re not going to be funny all the time, but knowing that that is true of everybody, and allowing things to be shared and flow helps you brainstorm better and makes a safer space for other people to mess up.”

Do you have plans to continue in the arts after Milton?

“Just looking short-term to college, I’m not planning on majoring in theatre or anything. But I know that doing theatre—and if not theatre, engaging in creative spaces—is something that makes me happy, so I definitely want to continue that in college. I don’t know if that will be traditional theatre or something else, but I definitely want to keep doing [art]. I’m excited to see! I think if I knew, that would be boring.”

Do you have any other advice for those of us sticking around on campus?

“Oh! Yes, I do.

  • Plan out the seasons you’re going to get your sports credits in in advance.

  • I know they always say that casting is not personal, but having helped cast shows, I can really say that it isn’t. So often it’s a numbers thing or a logistical thing, so I’d say don’t get discouraged.

  • If you’re curious [about an art], try it once at least because you don’t want to leave having a regret. If you don’t feel like you can engage in a full play, find other ways to engage with the arts.

  • Learn your lines ahead of time!

  • It’s easier said than done, but try to let go of how you think your performance or your art is going to look to other people, and if you want to do something but think you shouldn’t, or you want to try something but no one will do it with you, just do it.”

Mark Pang