A YEAR IN REVIEW: THIRD YEAR AT JUILLIARD DRAMA
I understand I haven't posted anything in six weeks, I've been pre-occupied with life stuff and Romeo & Juliet. I wrote a blog for Juilliard Admissions entitled, "A Year in Review." I'm going to put that one up here:
This was a very good year for me in terms of artistic and personal growth. I feel very lucky to have had many opportunities this year to showcase my range as an actress being given at least three roles to play in each of all the three productions we had this year (Top Girls, Queens Boulevard and Romeo & Juliet). On the personal level, there were a lot of quieter, internal victories and shifts that happened in the second semester that will hopefully continue to grow in the fourth year of my training.
I don’t like playing favorites because I loved them all this year. I do like to mention some key roles that brought a lot of "gifts" that will forever be with me.
1. Lady Nijo in Caryl Churchill’s “Top Girls.”
I was terrified of playing a Japanese courtesan from the 13th century given that it is so easy to fall into the trap of playing a stereotype. I truly wanted to honor her and do her justice. I read her published journal and interviewed three real Japanese women to talk about 13th century Japan (Kamakura period), studied courtesan movements and practices and recorded Japanese accents in English. My work was well received by my community and it taught me that being given something that might be scary at first can prove to have a hidden gift in it afterwards.
2) Aly in Chuck Mee’s “Queens Boulevard”
I wasn’t originally cast to play Aly - an Asian American guy with a four and a half page monologue on how white men have taken away Asian women from Asian men and why Asian men seem to be at the bottom of the dating pool. I had to cover for a colleague. When the role became vacant, my director had asked me if I was interested and willing to take over the part even though I was already assigned two roles for that show. After talking (and crying) to a mentor about how this part was triggering a lot of my own insecurities as a woman of color in America, I decided that taking this on would allow me to investigate my own fears in front of my community. The lesson I learned from playing Lady Nijo about leaning into my fears proved to do well for me in this instance again. It felt as if both Lady Nijo and Aly were roles that came and found me. Being given the opportunity to share that monologue in the form of a stand-up act in front of the community for a few nights at the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Drama Studio was healing and gave my comic skills a lot of practice.
3. Lady Capulet in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”
Playing mothers was not initially appealing to me. However, upon seeing female colleagues from other groups play powerful mothers and stepmothers in All My Sons, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya, I realized that it is a gift to have the opportunity to delve into the complexity and depth of being a mother in extraordinary circumstances. The energy work that my Alexander coach guided me through for this role was revelatory in how I can find ways to connect to experiences that I might not have access to in my life offstage.
There are a number of other non-Asian roles that I’ve played this year that have also expanded and revealed my range (playing the 11-year old Brit in Top Girls was a joy). That is part of what made this year so great - that I was able to take on roles that allowed me to embrace cultures and experiences that deeply resonated with mine as well as cultures and experiences that were distant from mine. I only hope that my fourth year will continue the process of my personal and artistic expansion.
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Regina De Vera
I am a Filipino actress alternating between New York and Manila. I received my acting training at The Juilliard School. Take a look around!