Senior Samir Behera Takes Theater beyond High School

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Clara Ferreira Lopes

Senior Samir Behera performs as Mr. Forbes in the play “The Wreck on the 5:25,” the last play of his high school theater career.

Senior Samir Behera is more than just “Samir” — he is John Proctor from “The Crucible,” The Player from “The Heart of the Matter” and Agamemnon from “The Iliad and the Odyssey.” He is an actor, a performer and an artist.

“Acting and performing itself makes me feel like I control the entire aura of the stage,” Behera said. “It’s an emotion I’ve never felt before of performing, and it makes me realize that theater is something I can pursue, and I’m capable of doing something really special with this.”

Behera has been involved in the drama department for all four years. Some of his roles include Mr. Forbes  in “The Wreck on the 5:25,” John Proctor, the male lead in “The Crucible” and Melvin in “One Stoplight Town.” 

My philosophy behind my art is hard work and dedication. I rely on that for every single thing, not just theater. I’ve gotten here because of my work ethic. If I didn’t have that, I probably wouldn’t have any success in my life and even further in the future.”

— Samir Behera

“Samir is the kind of person who your eye naturally gravitates towards when he’s performing,” drama teacher Samantha Sanford said. “He’s grounded, intentional, reflective. He’s deliberate in his actions, and like most artists, he’s critical of his work, and he pushes himself to be better.”

Behera has been performing for all of his life, from being a tree in short elementary school plays to being cast as lead roles for Portola High’s drama productions. After high school, he said he plans on studying theater at Irvine Valley College and transferring to the University of Southern California as an acting major. 

“My philosophy behind my art is hard work and dedication. I rely on that for every single thing, not just theater,” Behera said. “I’ve gotten here because of my work ethic. If I didn’t have that, I probably wouldn’t have any success in my life and even further in the future. I’m a very optimistic person, so in the future I’d like to say to myself now that ‘you’ve made it.’”

Aside from taking part in Irvine Valley College productions this fall, Behera said he hopes to audition for local community productions as well as shows in the Los Angeles theater district. 

“To see students follow their passion for the arts is really exciting because that’s the whole point of Portola — we want to see you grow and see you follow your passions and do that in a way that means something for the world,” former drama teacher Megan Kirby said. “And I think it’ll do something for the world and for Samir himself for him to continue with this passion.”