This weekend we had a chance to chat with Andre Nelson, a new instructor who's teaching Step I: Intro to Acting this summer. You may have seen him in various shows around town, including Bunnies at Annex Theatre in April. Andre's been involved with Freehold's Engaged Theatre tour for years, but this is his first time teaching with us. Welcome, Andre!
AN: I've been acting since age 10, when I played Cupid in a murder mystery at a winery. I was hooked soon after and began studying theatre intensively at an arts magnet program in my high school.
Unfortunately, I had a rotten experience in the theatre program at my first college and swore off acting forever. A few years later, however, I had an epiphany while flipping burgers as a line cook in Portland, Oregon: I couldn't escape my need to act nor would I be happy without it.
Long story short, I finished up my BFA at Cornish College of the Arts and have been working professionally in theatre since.
What brought you to Freehold?
I first worked with Freehold doing their Engaged Theatre tour of King Lear to Washington State Prisons a few years back. It was an illuminating experience, and I am grateful I had the chance to connect with easily the most attentive, appreciative audiences I've ever encountered.
Tell us about a memorable onstage or backstage moment.
One memorable moment I had as an actor was my first entrance in a scene. It was the murder mystery I mentioned, in which I played Cupid in green tights and an oversized, ruffle-sleeved white shirt to boot. I was apparently too young to be trusted to make my entrance by myself, so someone was in charge of letting me know it was time for my one and only entrance in the play. Unfortunately, no one came to tell me. One of the actors on stage had to improvise and run backstage to grab me. It was an amusing, albeit embarrassing introduction into the crazy world of theatre!
Do you have a favorite role that you've played? Which role(s) would you be interested in playing in the future, and why?
One of my more memorable roles was playing the character Louis from Virginia Woolf's The Waves, an adaptation directed by Sheila Daniels at Cornish College of the Arts. Not only did I have to learn an Australian dialect and play an uptight social outcast, but I also got the pleasure of giving life to Woolf's beautiful poetry.
I've always wanted to act in a Chekhov play - any of them really but Cherry Orchard and The Seagull in particular. Every character he wrote is well rounded and fascinating.
What are you looking forward to teaching in your Step I class this summer?
I'm looking forward to getting to know the students and being inspired by them. I can't wait to learn from each class in order to grow as a teacher and give them the best experience possible.