Graduating with an Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting
How did you pick your major of study, and why did you choose the University of Windsor?
I began acting in community-based theatre companies in Windsor early in my first degree program. After nearly 10 years of performing with a number of local companies, I found myself watching friends—friends I had made in community theatre—graduate from the School of Dramatic Art. I had watched them grow and change through their four years, and envied both what they were able to do on stage and the fact that they were heading out to begin their careers. I found myself facing a choice: try to make a jump to acting as a profession (i.e., move to Toronto), or get some training first. The School of Dramatic Art at the University of Windsor has one of the finest reputations in the country, and I was fortunate enough to have it in my hometown. The decision to audition for the program remains one of the best I have made in my life.
What were your expectations of university? Has the University of Windsor met those expectations?
It's difficult to remember my expectations when entering the BFA Acting program. I do recall that I expected it to be challenging, frightening, and possibly life-changing. The program wildly exceeded all of those expectations, particularly in the final category: I am not the same person who walked into a studio in the Jackman (Dramatic Art Centre) for the first time in 2007. I fully believe that professional-calibre acting is merely the application of this program's training. The training itself is nothing more or less than the development of our connections to ourselves, the development of our physical, emotional, and creative potential. It is training in becoming a more complete human being.
What would you say is the most important thing you have learned at university: about yourself, about other people, about your field of study, or about the world?
It sounds strange, but it really should come as no surprise that a program designed to teach you how to create different roles and personalities actually teaches you most about becoming yourself. Perhaps the greatest lesson I've taken is the notion that "everything is right." This isn't meant in a complacent, laissez-faire manner, that we can leave everything alone and be fine. It's meant in the sense that, when we prepare and actively open ourselves to possibilities (on stage and off), everything that happens will be the right thing to happen. We will be ready to make use of it. J. Ed Araiza, a fantastic theatre artist who visits our school each year, says anything that happens unexpectedly, anything "goes wrong" during a performance, is actually "God's choreography"; i.e., it's part of the performance whether it was planned or not. It means awareness, acceptance, and creativity in the face of the unpredictable.
What would you say has been the most memorable part of your UWindsor experience?
I find it impossible to pick a "most memorable" experience. In my four years at the school, I have had the opportunity to study for a month at the Moscow Art Theatre School, train and work with leading international artists from the SITI Company, travel to and perform at the Brighton Festival Fringe in the UK, perform in seven productions with the University Players, and work with an international gathering of theatre artists during a week-long workshop in the Michael Chekhov technique hosted by the University of Windsor, in addition to many other small workshops and training sessions offered throughout the years. I made lifetime friends, found mentors, worked with inspiring guest artists, created my own theatre pieces, and changed my life. How to pick just one?
Please tell us why you are proud to be part of the University of Windsor’s graduating class of 2011.
I am incredibly proud to have been a part of my class, one of the finest ensembles of dramatic artists I have seen come from this school. I am proud of my decision to take this course, to change course and pursue a second degree in a wildly unpredictable field simply because I felt it was the right thing for me to do. I am proud of the group of professionals that have assembled at this school to teach us, proud to say that I have been taught by them. I am proud of how I have changed and developed in the last four years, and of how I have helped others to change and develop. I am proud of the relationships I nurtured, and the opportunities in which I engaged. I am proud of my experiences at the university, and of my hopes outside it. And I suspect that I share these prides with everyone who is part of the University of Windsor graduating class of 2011.
Did you have a course, professor or classmate who inspired you?
Every course, every professor, every guest artist, and every classmate inspired me in some way or other. For me, this is one of the greatest strengths of the School of Dramatic Art: there is something to take from everyone and everything. I do have to give special recognition to Lionel Walsh, Gina Lori Riley, Michael Keating, and Brian Rintoul for the depth of their influence on my training and development. I worked with each of them in at least four classes, and for the first three as a teaching assistant. As much as they have taught me about working in the theatre—which is more than considerable—they have taught me about being courageous, considerate, and intelligent; about having integrity and respect for the craft. In short, they showed me by example how to be an artist, and became colleagues and friends in the process. And of course, the entire group of the BFA Acting class of 2011: I would not be who and what I am without each of them, and that would have been a damn shame. My gratitude and love to you all
What are your plans following graduation?
I have already embarked upon my immediate plans, which more or less began and ended with my flight to Greece. Windsor was my home town for over 25 years; now I call Athens, Greece, home. I've been here for four weeks now, and expect to be adapting—to the language, the culture, the history, the size, the problems—for some time yet.
I'm settling into a new home, and my plans become a little more varied: learn to speak Greek, marry my fiancée, and try to begin a career. I already have two acting students, whom I'm helping to prepare for drama school auditions in England, and am working as part of a team of five directors who are staging a performance of the Greek play Κάσσυ ("Cassie"), as a benefit for Médecins du monde. Here I am, a Canadian artist fresh out of university and fresh off the plane, and I feel confident in my ability to be a part of this group of experienced Greek artists because of my training and experiences at the University of Windsor. It's wonderful!