What advice would you give to new students about how they can build relationships and form communities in a new environment?
For a new student to build relationships and form communities at FSU/Asolo Conservatory, I would tell them to soak in every moment. I would ask them to put “worry” aside, and to substitute it with hard work, with doing rather than fretting. Jump into the work at hand every day with a beginner’s mind which is open to endless possibilities. And to listen, this is a skill that is critical to being an empathetic human and an excellent actor. The people you will encounter at FSU/Asolo are diverse and multi-faceted. Connect with, build bridges with, be interested in, learn from ALL the people around you: your fellow classmates, students in the other 2 years training at the Conservatory, your faculty, the donors who provide economic and emotional support to all the students, members of the creative teams, the back stage crew, the professional company of the Asolo Repertory Theatre that are all around literally daily in the rehearsal halls and walking in the corridors and up onstage doing the very thing that you aspire to do with your life.
What is your favorite class you teach and why?
My favorite class I teach is 1st year voice, and it’s my favorite because I get to work with students daily in a studio lab on what for me is the deepest expression of humanity and truth onstage: the voice. My goal in this class is to give my students the vocal skills they need to succeed in the highly competitive field of professional theatre. In 1st year voice class, we strip down and excavate the vocal instrument, we discover authenticity and connection to impulse, and we train to release the voice and body from all those habitual social and often fear-based defaults we have built up over the years. And, we don’t do this in theory, we do it in concrete, hands-on, practical, get down on the floor, physiological ways.
What is your favorite thing about Sarasota?
Sarasota is a beautiful city. The tropical flowers and palm trees and birds and the ocean and the beaches and the sea turtles and the manatees and the dolphins. I love these things! Yet equally my favorite thing about Sarasota is its commitment to and cultivation of the Arts. To name only a few: Asolo Repertory Theatre, Urbanite Theatre, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Orchestra, The Ringling Museum, The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
How does FSU’s MFA program work with the Asolo Conservatory?
The MFA program and the Asolo Repertory Theatre work hand in glove. Both organizations benefit greatly from this relationship. Because of the MFA actors in training, the Asolo Rep is able to cast and understudy large and challenging productions which would often be impossible to produce without the rich pool of talent the Conservatory offers. The benefit to the MFA students is clear and spectacular: the chance to work on a LORT B stage with professional Equity actors in a highly regarded regional theatre. 1st and 3rd year actors in training at the Conservatory understudy the Asolo Rep season; and the core of the 3rd year MFA training is performing onstage as Associate Company Members, and while no role is ever guaranteed to a student, in the past students have been cast in major roles in productions such as All the Way, The Great Society, The Originalist, Disgraced, Ah Wilderness!, Equus, God of Carnage, Other Desert Cities, The Grapes of Wrath, Vanya and Sonia And Masha And Spike, Clybourne Park, Las Meninas, Doubt, A Few Good Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Other fun things in Sarasota:
13 public beaches and 35 miles of beachfront in Sarasota County.
First Friday Art Walks on Palm Avenue, first Friday every month.Posted by Olivia Vessel Posted on 10 Nov