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1. Why NYSSSA? (why audition, why did you decide to attend?)

I had been looking for a focued and challenging summer program that would prepare me for what it would mean to go to college for acting. The fact that NSYSSA actually put you on college grounds and gave you that immersive campus experience was incredibly exciting to me. It was exactly what I'd been looking for. I was a little nervous when I was accepted, but ecstatic.

2. How did you find out about NYSSSA?

My school's theatre attends the NYSTEA Student Conference every year. My teacher told me to sign up for an audition, and I just went for it. James Luse made sure to tell me that if I was accepted and decided to go, I needed to be prepared for a summer that would really push me. I had to be ready to work and learn and grow. I loved that.

3. Typical Day/Schedule at NYSSSA?

I’d wake up at around 7:30 to get to breakfast by 8. We had our morning movement classes, where the entire ensemble was able to come together. During movement, we would spend time exploring what it meant to express yourself using your body. We’d devise small group movement pieces, play ensemble-wide games, and expand our comfort and awareness of within ourselves and our ensemble. We all stayed together for vocal classes in the theater, where we learned how to build a both physical and vocal warm up routine to prep our bodies and voices to perform. We also learned the International Phonetic Alphabet in a college lecture-hall environment. We’d have lunch, and afterwards, we split in half to go to acting and improv. Our acting classes focused on the values of an ensemble, using objectives to direct our actions, honesty, acting using your body, acting with breath, given circumstances, and so much more. Improv focused a lot on character building, making strong choices, mime, and physical performance. After dinner, our evenings were filled with workshops: tango, stage combat, and mask, to name a few. Our ensemble had the opportunity to explore countless different concepts. Any free time: at meals, after workshops; was used to work on any of our individual or group assignments, or to just relax and talk with friends at the dorms. We were constantly moving.

4. Best Moment at NYSSSA?

Five of my friends and I spent at least two weeks choreographing a ridiculous, five-minute long dance number to a medley of songs like “All that Jazz,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Waving Through a Window.” Four of us danced, one played all of the music on the piano, and our sixth friend sat behind us blowing bubbles the entire time. We would run off to a small practice room whenever we had time and practice, laughing the whole time. We debuted our show-stopping number at the talent show at the end of the month, and it was maybe the most fun I’ve ever had.

5. Why would you encourage someone to audition for NYSSSA?

NYSSSA changed who I was as a performer and as a person. I learned so much about who I was while I was there. The first week, I was really closed off to any challenge or uncomfortable experience. At NYSSSA, you’re really not allowed to be closed off, and I learned that very quickly. I was taught to be vulnerable and okay with looking bad or wrong or ridiculous. At NYSSSA, you are constantly working, constantly thinking, constantly being challenged to think broader and wider and larger. I learned about the strength of the ensemble, grew more comfortable with using my body as an instrument, and found friends who I’ll keep for the rest of my life. NYSSSA will give you what you are willing to take, so you need to open yourself to this experience of excitement and learning and challenges. If that sounds like an experience that you want--then I encourage you endlessly to audition for NYSSSA.