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From Gabriella in Troy, NY (New York State Theatre Institute):
Hi Nan,

How are you? This is Gabriella. I don't know if you remember me but I wrote to you about 3 yrs ago during the run of Camille Claudel. At the time I was 14 and I wrote to you in regards to starting to write a musical. I also called myself the pain in the butt for asking so many questions. Well anyways a lot has changed since then. I hope you don't mind but I am always so grateful for the time that you took to reply to my post that I not only want to ask you another question but I would love to give you an update of the progress I've made in the theatre.

I am currently 17 and now a high school senior. I think that the first time that I wrote to you I was a freshman. Anyways. I have taken your advice in stride by doing so I have not only progressed in my writing but in the performing aspect as well. For my senior yr I attend the New York State Theatre Institute, located in upstate NY (have you heard of it?). Every single day I learn something new about the world of theatre. NYSTI has really been an amazing experience. I have had the privilege to work and perform alongside some of Broadway's best. Last month I had an amazing opportunity when I performed in the musical production of King Island Christmas which was directed by the wonderful Patricia Birch. I also have had the opportunity to act alongside Lorraine Serabian, take playwrighting with Ed Lange, and I am currently stage managing and assistant to the great Ron Holgate in his musical production of 1776 starring Gary Lynch. Now by mentioning these wonderful people it's not my intention to brag at all, believe you me I HATE people like that. It's just that I feel so blessed to have these opportunities. And I have learned so much.

Now that I've given you the update, here are my questions.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Linda about the auditioning process and I was just interested on what your take on that would be?

and

Like I mentioned I have been taking playwriting with Ed. I wrote my first musical called Life On Broadway. Ed told me that he was very impressed with the personal connection that I made. He could tell that my heart was poured out into this piece. But he also gave me constructive criticism and told me that my writing lacks structure. I was just wondering if you can elaborate a little bit for me on what exactly he means and do you have any advice on how to make it better?

Thanks so much Nan! I hope you had a great holiday! Hopefully I will hear from you soon.

Sincerely,
Gabriella



Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Dear Gabriella,

I'd be interested to know what Linda said about the auditioning process. I assume she was talking about it from the point of view of the performer, but I'm not sure. Your question is a little general, but I'll try to address it.

Sitting behind the table, you're always waiting for something different to walk in that door. I say "something" instead of "someone" because it's more than just the person - you're waiting for a whole new mood to hit the room, a surprise, a breath of fresh air. It makes me feel so sad when I see a performer come into the audition room feeling nervous, even shaking. I wish all the actors could know that when most of us sit behind that table, we are only wishing well for the actor, we are open-minded and hoping that this person is the one. I myself cherish the little idiosyncrasies of each actor. It would be wrong for an actor to think we're looking for a mold, a type. We're just looking to see who that person is and we're delighted if he or she is able to make us view the character in a whole new light. That may be the most exciting part of the process for the creative team - those moments when an actor creates a brand new take on a character right before your eyes. When I watch American Idol, I feel totally in sync with the panel when they urge the singers to be original, to do what's right for them, to let themselves stand out from the others, and it's fascinating to watch the singers learn and change from week to week. Just know that you should never be afraid to be yourself when you audition and you should never try to be like someone else. There's nothing worse than a lukewarm copy.

I could actually talk on this subject for another hour, and I'm only guessing about which aspect of auditioning you wanted to hear about, but the last thing I'll say for now is that I adore the process, have constant admiration for the actors, and am always rooting for them.

You also asked about playwriting and wondered if I could elaborate on Ed's comments about your writing needing structure. This would be impossible to do because I don't know your writing and I don't know what Ed intended when he said this. However, I will say that structure is the backbone of any play. The flesh of the play is the characters, the dialogue, the laughs, the moments, but if you don't have the overall bones that shape it and hold it together, it becomes a relatively meaningless mélange. I personally think that one can only learn structure with time, watching plays, reading plays and continuing to write and listen to feedback. But Ed is right when he stresses its importance. You can't write in a fog of feeling - you have to know exactly where you're going and why.

Thank you, Gabriella, for the update on your current career and also for your interesting questions.

My best to you,
Nan
 
 

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