Bluefield College Student Donnie Bales Has a Passion for the Arts
Around the Bluefield College campus, Donnie Bales is the go-to guy when someone needs help making a YouTube video. He has also worked with staff and faculty to create short clips for convocation and for the Theatre Department.
December 4, 2009
But, Donnie will be the first to tell you that his video editing skill is a hobby or a "second gift." His first love is acting, and it is with this gift that he displays his passion for the arts.
Entering his senior year at Bluefield College, Donnie has his plans made. He's looking for a graduate school where he can continue honing his skills as an actor.
"I'm looking at NYU or the North Carolina School of the Arts," he said, "and there are a few others on my list."
Donnie first appeared on the stage of Marion (VA) High School, but he says his passion for acting began at a much earlier age. He remembers "watching movies all the time with my grandfather when I was little. I lived with my grandparents until I was eight years old, and this was how I would spend time with my grandfather because he was bedridden."
Donnie recalls, too, that as an only child he was a "very imaginative" kid, who would "create [his] own characters." When commenting on acting, he said, "I think everyone likes to put on different skins. It's attractive, because you get to step into the shoes of other people and see different sides of their personalities.
Donnie has performed in several Bluefield College stage productions, including the lead role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, as Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, and as Jimmy in The Miracle Worker, among others. When preparing for the role of Otto Frank in BC's The Diary of Anne Frank, Donnie spent hours researching the Frank family.
"The role was very serious, because it was a very serious subject," he said. "I tend to follow the Stanislavski system where you believe you are the character. This causes the emotion to come. I research the physical traits of a character. Otto Frank had a bad back, so I imagined what that might feel like."
During the summers, Donnie has worked at Stagedoor Manor, a performing arts training center in the Catskills Mountains of New York, where he teaches acting, movie making, and film appreciation to children and teenagers. Described as "total theater immersion," Stagedoor Manor's alumni includes actors like Natalie Portman of the movie Star Wars and Robert Downey, Jr. of the recent film Iron Man.
"It is a grueling schedule with 32 professionally produced productions," he said. "I work in sound design, head up the video department, hold production meetings, and teach the students. People come in from Broadway and all over the world. The experience is culturally enriching and intense."
With graduation just a year away, Donnie said the prospect of touring the country, "acting and telling stories" thrills him. He is more interested in theatre work than film or television, because on the stage he says you can fully explore a character.
He added that he's more than prepared to move into the world of secular acting, because his instructors at Bluefield College have taught him how to maintain his Christian integrity while performing.
"Charles and Rebecca Reese are excellent role models," Donnie said about BC's theatre faculty. "I thought I knew what acting was before I came to Bluefield, but I've learned truly what it is from them. They are like a second mom and dad to me. Their devotional and spiritual life is an inspiration to me. They are always there for their students."
Donnie doesn't deny that there will be even harder lessons to learn in the future, but acting, he said, "is all (he) wants to do." Some students, he added, are called to Christian theatre, but he feels he can be salt and light to the secular theatre scene.
"I will take my faith with me and live daily for Christ, keeping a strong relationship with Him," Donnie said. "It's talking to God and trying to live that out in daily life. Hopefully, I can build relationships with my fellow actors and Christ's presence will be seen through me."