Orrin Whalen ’14 is a Theatre Design/Technology major who is hoping to blend his set design experience with his passion for exercise after he arrives at the new Emerson College Los Angeles, which opens to students in two days.
“[Emerson College Los Angeles] is like graduating a semester early,” he said. “It’s a nice transition into a field.”
Whalen was born in Leicester, England, but grew up near Los Angeles. While living there, he saw evidence of the “Emerson Mafia,” a term used to describe Emerson alumni working in the communication and arts industries.
“I was helping out on a film set two or three years ago,” Whalen said. “I think eight people working on the film were from Emerson.”
Whalen was observing the work taking place on the 2012 Oliver Stone–directed movie Savages, which starred John Travolta and Blake Lively.
To get a taste of professional life in Los Angeles, Whalen is keeping an open mind during the internship search. He is interviewing for internships at production companies.
“It’s kind of like applying for college all over again,” he said. “You have to decide, ‘OK, how many places am I going to apply to? What actually is beneficial to me? And then, who’s actually going to accept me?’”
In Boston, one of Whalen’s proudest moments came from working as production designer for the Shakespearean Jazz Show. Emerson and Berklee College of Music students work together on the performance, which combines New Orleans jazz with Shakespeare’s words.
“I remember opening night when we had everyone come in,” he said. ”It was one of those feelings where I’m like, ‘This is awesome.’ It was cool seeing people getting giddy over something as simple as set design.”
When he is not designing sets, three days a week Whalen wakes up early to work out with the November Project during its 6:30 am fitness sessions. The exercise group meets outdoors at different locations in Boston, even during bad or frigid weather, with the goal of staying in shape during the winter months.
“It’s literally like a giant love fest,” he said. “There’s hugging… and people are always introducing new people. It’s a great way to get to know people and to feel like part of a community within the city.”
Whalen said he is hoping to establish a November Project in Los Angeles when he attends ELA.