This is the first in a series of weekly blog posts by our 2015 Emerging Artists, Intiman’s summer training intensive for a diverse cohort of up-and-coming theatre artists.
Today’s post is written by Fortuna Gebresellassie, a BFA Acting student at New York University. Fortuna wants to use theatre to give strength to different cultures rather than oppressing them, and to help those who have been through traumatic experiences.


What happens when you take 30 distinctly different individuals in age, size, background, experience, and education and put them in a room together for roughly 7 hours a day, twice a week?

You find the construction site of a new home. You find the development of new friendships as people travel from around the world and country to come and participate, which would have otherwise never been possible. Through the sharing and generation of ideas, thoughts, and wonders — you create a family, really.

A family of vastly curious, high-spirited, ever-so-dedicated, strong-willed, compassionate, and gleamingly brilliant individuals yearning for change, for greatness, for a voice that will shine some much needed light onto the world.

In number, there is strength, in knowledge, there is power, and in art, there is star-striking light. Put those three in a room together and you’ve got yourself one hell of an unbreakable journey.

That is what one-week with the IEAP has shared with me. And to think I’ve got 6 more!


What Do You Bring To A Room

In the first week, we were introduced to a handful of workshops, starting with “What Do You Bring To A Room,” where we identified for each other how casting directors may perceive us at first glance, simply by the way we enter a room.

I found that our impressions of each Emerging Artist, once we wrote them down in black-and-white, significantly diminished the presence of the individual. Instead of crafting a full-blown detailed painting, each description became a skeleton for a one-size-fits-all of that person.

It’s important for actors to understand how we initially portray ourselves as an individual when going into an audition room, so as to better plan and formulate the character we create for the audition.

We also spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of networking. We obtained some insight from “Actors in the Field” about life as an actor, and tips on “Looking Your Best For Headshot,” just to name a few.

It’s been a week full of fun and games, serious discussions and debates about the social challenges we face today within and outside our community. We’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how we as artists can deal with, and better address, these challenges.

This week has left me wondering more now then ever before, what does it really mean to be an artist? A silly question to some, but one that haunts many of us who have chosen to pursue this field for a career.


“These artists are excited to change the world.”

That is the last point on the “Five things you should know about the Emerging Artist Program” blog post. But what does that exactly mean, “changing the world?”

How can we — 30 individuals all in different positions of our lives, with significantly different backgrounds and creative minds and understandings — possibly manage to “change the world?” What does that even mean? And more importantly, does anyone even care that we want to?

Although it may seem like it to many, we don’t just dance around and cry on stage “for fun” all the time. There is meaning to it all. Every story has a lesson, whether one chooses to see it or not.

And the story I’ve learned this week is: We all have a need to try and understand the joys and downfalls of humanity, the strengths and scars of others, so as to not only try and understand our own strengths and scars, but to understand each other in a way that creates a path wide enough for us all to walk on together.

In this tease of a world where love and hate has managed to beautifully and distinctively coexist at all times, it’s easy to get lost. But if we try and open ourselves up to someone else’s life, free of judgment, maybe we can find one another when we get lost. That is what we have been welcomed and encouraged to do at the IEAP.

Be courageous, be bold, be curious, flourish in our thoughts and wonders through the words that have been carefully crafted for us to use. Through the people we speak to and speak of, through the stories we share and learn, through the voices that have seemed lost, forgotten, shut out or taken away… We find ways of bringing them out and up into the fruitful life they deserve. We are encouraged to fulfill and act on our need to think, speak, and live.

Photo Credit: Pamela M. Campi Photography