Recent graduate explores theatre through improv and community programs

Luke Brooks ’16 knows firsthand that there’s no business like show business.

Luke Brooks (left) and Paul Curry featured in a poster advertising their show
Luke Brooks ’16 (left) and Paul Curry featured in a poster advertising their show

Brooks recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Cornell College, and has quickly gotten to work putting his skills to the test.

For the past couple of years Brooks has been the head speech coach at Iowa City West High School and an acting instructor for Theatre Cedar Rapids. Now, he’s on the move to South Carolina where he’ll pursue his acting dreams at the next level.

The Cornellian has worked hard to participate in many theatre opportunities and even create some of his own opportunities.

“Back in December I did a show with my two-man improv group called Watery Indian Food,” Brooks said. “It was a collaboration with my friend, Paul Curry. Three days of rehearsal was all it took, and we had an hour-long show. We performed at an awesome little space in Iowa City. We performed there again this summer as our second group, Wet Tricycle. This time, we added Gio Rivera ’17, my good friend from Cornell’s own improv group, The Freelance Cosmonauts. It didn’t take long for Curry and Rivera to start taking our shows in awesome, crazy directions, and I found myself having a blast on stage trying to keep up with the two of them.” 

The recent graduate has had a chance to reflect on his time at Cornell, saying it was the most challenging four years of his life, but that he wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“My favorite part of my time at Cornell was the constant discussion,” Brooks said. “It didn’t matter if I was in class, rehearsal, or just hanging out with friends. There was always someone with strong ideas they wanted to express. Working with the people at Cornell has left me with a far broader perspective of the world, which I believe is crucial to any performing artist.”

As he discovers his path, the actor says Cornell and its faculty have played a big part.

“I do want to give a shout out to Jim VanValen who was my acting professor, and like me, left Cornell this past year,” Brooks said. “His classes made me the performer I am today. To me, his teachings weren’t about sounding sad, memorizing lines, or making sure the audience can see you. They were about being present with everyone else in the room.”

Brooks wants his future to be filled with community arts education programs, and his goal is to find a way to support those programs as he continues his career in acting.

He’s also creating a YouTube comedy series called “Workplace Survival.”  Brooks said the first few episodes should be coming out soon.

Gio Rivera (right), Luke Brooks (center), and Paul Curry (left) perform for an audience.
Gio Rivera ’17 (right), Luke Brooks ’16 (center), and Paul Curry (left) perform for an audience.