Originally from Clearwater Florida, I grew up performing in musical comedies with a traveling theatre troupe. Working at a car wash outside of high school hours permitted me to save up enough money to get the hell out of Florida and I first came to Paris at the age of 18 as a model.
I would travel with a suitcase full of books, lugging them from city to city. At the age of 22, I got myself a bookshelf and began formal acting training at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC. After graduation, two years later, I returned to Paris and was accepted into the Ecole Florent’s Class Libre program where I spent another two years immersed in the French technique of Louis Jouvet. I learned French as I repeated my lines from Victor Hugo’s Mary Tudor and Claudel’s Soulier de satin into a tape recorder. From there it seemed that there was surely something to be done with this dual background; the American and French techniques had distinctive qualities to lend each other. I staged my first play “Breaking the States”, which was a collection of scenes from American plays, translated and acted in French. I co-wrote and co-directed “Near and Far”, a production that was sponsored by Vienna’s Wut theatre and toured in the renowned Donau festival. Although I longed to continue writing and directing, the pen on paper routine terrified me. I figured that the best way to correct this would be to learn to interpret a text and explore the writing process. Any truly inspired performance originates from an expertly crafted play. An articulated understanding of the play, its specific context and characters, is a large part of what makes a production unique. Such ideas, as well as an on-and-off-again French boyfriend, are what led me to AUP in 2004, this time enrolled as a Comparative Literature major.
The semesters and years flew by as I devoured the selected reading lists and struggled through exam essays and term papers. As much as I loved the stories, the history and the lively exchanges, I dreaded the moment when I had to collect my thoughts and write them down in an organized manner. However, our greatest challenges often beget our proudest accomplishments. Intellectual structure was what I lacking, and I had found the perfectly intimate and passionate atmosphere to pursue this goal. Having been fortunate to work with gifted actors and directors, I felt equally blessed at AUP. Debates that ensued after reading Lissa Lincoln’s course curriculum were enthralling and revealed a brilliant world of social commentary masquerading as provocative literature. The creative soul born of hardship that we discovered in Dan Gunn’s courses (Proust – Beckett, literature of Naples, Holocaust literature) would forever change my perception of the writing process and the burden of its expression. Roy Rosenstein initiated my culture in European poetry and I am still going back to my class notes regularly to look up the names of authors we reviewed. Geoff Gilbert’s classes presented us with the complexities of gender issues in literature and instilled in me a fascination for the woman artist’s inner conflict. Adrian Harding’s course, Theatre in Paris, exposed us to the contemporary genius of directors such as Lukas Hemleb and Rodrigo García and in the philosophy department, Richard Beardsworth’s courses taught us not only about the great minds that have influenced the arts over the last two centuries but, even more importantly, how to think for ourselves.
I graduated in 2007 pregnant with my first son and married to that on-and-off-again Frenchman. A second son was soon to follow. In January 2010, I finally created my theatre company, New York Avenue, whose first production was staged at La Reine Blanche for its Paris – New York festival last September. It was an English, musical adaptation of Guillaume Apollinaire’s surrealist drama “Les Mamelles de Tirésias”, acted in English by an entirely French cast, and directed by New York city’s Eric Wallach; a truly international adventure (see videos of the production here and here). My newest project is a translation from Russian into French of the late Anna Yablonskaya’s play, Pagans. This one I hope to direct and stage for the spring 2012 season. The interest of New York Avenue lies in its mandate to develop more theatrical exchanges between France and abroad. I have also recently begun consulting for a Parisian site rental company that organizes commercial and gala receptions in the historical Salle Wagram. My professors from AUP continue to be a great support in my endeavors and I am looking forward a renewed relationship with fellow alumni through this blog!