Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Introducing Freehold's Ensemble Training Intensive Diversity Scholarship Students

Freehold’s Diversity Scholarship was created to ensure that our programs reflect the diversity of our community. Freehold awarded three scholarships to the 2014-2015 Ensemble Training Intensive (ETI) class which will cover tuition in full for selected students from under-represented communities. We are excited to welcome and introduce you to Freehold's ETI Diversity Scholarship Students for 2014-15: Brace Evans, Marie Bolla and Fernando Luna.

Can you share with us a little bit about your background and what drew you to apply to ETI?

Brace: ETI found me through the Meisner series at Freehold which found me because of a friend's suggestion who I had performed with in Moby Dick at Book-It Repertory Theatre. And all of this came because of living: the importance and skill of being present. I say this because acting is not my life. It is something that I do because I enjoy telling and inspiring others through stories. It is crucial for me to live in the things that we all have in our lives: a stressful moment at work, a stranger who pisses me off, watching dogs cavort in a dog park, attempting to pass by a beautifully colored tree in the fall that dares your to not notice it, and so many other individual moments that build a life. These are the things that inform my sense of being as it contributes to acting a character in a play, a film, or a commercial. As it happens in life, you find things and things find you, and you make a choice of how to respond, which takes you on an unknown journey. The reality for me, which a good friend pointed out to me when I lived in New York, is that just because you have a gift doesn't mean that you don't have to do the work. For me, that is a universal truth of all living things. And as a thinking being, that can get lost as we go from child to adult, a DNA redirect. So when a program finds you that allows you to claim your DNA, 'I AM AN ACTOR," and revel in it, you simply say “yes” to the journey.

Marie: I've loved art since I was a small child. Acting, singing, playing the piano, writing and dancing have been life-giving and sources of tremendous pleasure since I can remember. During my daytime hours I've worked in the legal field, sales, churches, live radio and most recently, non-profit development. It was shortly after my father passed away suddenly in 2003 that I took a job at a radio station working as an Executive Producer, On-air Host and doing Voice-Overs, that I connected with a Voice Over coach who asked if I'd ever considered acting. I told her I thought that ship had sailed for me as I had graduated college and thought I was past my time. She quickly informed me that I was mistaken - anyone at any age can act, and I should do it if it felt important to me. I believe that life is a precious gift and I've got to take savor every moment pursuing things that are sacred to me, as acting is. My voice-over coach connected me to an acting coach who helped me start preparing for ETI years ago. When I first heard about it in 2010 it felt too good to be true. A year of training in acting with experts in Seattle without having to enroll in a University? This is a thing?! I'm so excited to see how ETI will change my life. From how I move to honing my craft and giving me the skills to express a character in my most authentic way. I can't wait. I've wanted this since I was calling up television companies as a kid asking them how I be an actor.

Fernando: I am so honored to have granted the Diversity Scholarship to attend this year’s ETI. This opportunity brings me a complete full circle from my youthful roots in theatre to my recent return to the stage and beyond. Previously, I found a path to a career in social work working with several social service agencies. I also pursued higher education, eventually achieving a Master’s degree in Public Policy from The Evergreen State College. Four years ago, chance brought me back into the theatre fold as I founded Latino Theatre Projects here in Seattle and returned to acting, this time with the double challenge of acting in my second language. It feels like a return to home to again be presenting quality theatre experiences to local audiences.

What are you most looking forward to as you head into ETI 2014-2015?

Brace: What I am looking forward to surprised me because it also frightens me, which is solo performance. I have been intrigued by this for many, many years. So, as part of the program, it is now an opportunity to emBRACE this fear and explore how it will manifest. I am also looking forward to seeing how I respond to the rigors of this training. I tend to have high expectations of myself to meet the requirements of the program to access what it means to develop a character and understand the dynamics and fundamentals of interpreting and performing text, a play or otherwise. The Meisner series was a first step, which was serious, a stab with a sharp knife, and glad to have come out on the other end with a better ability. But this may cut to the core on a razors edge but I am excited to see what is removed and developed in the end.

Marie: It's really hard to narrow this down. The idea of taking this course is a dream come true. The most exciting thing is learning so much from so many experts. The movement/physical training is really new and exciting for me. I have the incredible pleasure and privilege of taking a movement course from Donald Byrd (The Artistic Director at Spectrum). I never would have imagined I'd ever be in a position to take a class from him. I've already seen that the way the brain is used for movement is so different and I'm excited to grow in physical expression. I think it may be one of the most challenging parts of ETI for me - so I anticipate me growing a lot in that area. I'm also really curious about the Solo Show and what I'm going to come up with for 10 minutes. The challenge is both nerve-wracking and incredibly exciting. I'm just so thrilled to be able to participate in this year's ETI and feel so thankful for this opportunity.

Fernando: After a performance of my first venture into acting in English, I was approached by an ETI alumnus who told me of the excitement of getting intense training in all aspects of acting through ETI and recommended that I apply when the chance came along. I paid attention and when this year’s program was announced, I leapt at the opportunity. ETI will enable me to hone my craft and integrate me more directly with Seattle’s theatre community. Through the skills and techniques presented in ETI, I can move forward with expanding diversity both on the stage and in our audiences. I can give my own community art that reflects their culture and lives and open new doors of understanding and experience for all Seattle theatre patrons. It humbles me to have been selected to participate in this wonderful, professional advancement program.

As you anticipate the intensive class schedule of 22-30 hours of class work a week, is there anything in particular that you think will help you to navigate the program?

Brace: Dancing, riding my bike, and tennis. Dancing, literally and figuratively. Going out to dance, literally, frees up my flow and allows me to completely let go, not caring who is watching. It also helps me to recalibrate my internal timing. Figuratively, because the rhythm of life, changing in a moments notice, means that then I have to adjust or interpret the music differently from one song to the next but make the transition seamless. Riding my bike because it relieves and helps me transition, but also forces me to anticipate in timing, and be present with everything that surrounds me to be able to make quick decisions, sometimes between life and death. And tennis, because, like the dancing and riding my bike, it is a stress buster to hit a ball hard but also work on planning, strategic thinking, and make peace with exposed and exploited weaknesses. Oddly, all of this is fun, but helps with the added benefit of crossing into daily life and the art of acting. And lastly, a good deodorant. Preferably non toxic and environmentally friendly.

Maria: A heating pad, ice pack, ibuprofen (thank you Movement class), yummy snacks and Mamma's on speed-dial.

Fernando: I may need lots of caffeine to work my regular job, and the intensive program schedule. Bring on the jitters!

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